Donald Trump faces potential financial losses after a civil fraud trial ruling

Judge's order took away business certificates for some Trump-controlled firms.

September 28, 2023, 5:04 AM

A New York judge ordered the cancellation of the business certificates for firms in the state owned by former President Donald Trump and others associated with the Trump Organization, casting into doubt the future of the private sector empire on which Trump has built his reputation for business acumen.

The directive came as part of a pretrial ruling in a $250 million civil fraud trial that found Trump had submitted "fraudulent valuations" for assets that were then used by himself, his eldest sons and his business to obtain better loan and insurance terms.

In a scathing order on Tuesday, Judge Arthur Engoron cited "false and misleading square footage" of Trump's Fifth Avenue apartment, among other faulty valuations, among other tactics.

Eric Trump, who runs the Trump Organization's day-to-day operations, responded on X, previously known as Twitter, saying, "Today, I lost all faith in the New York legal system. Never before have I seen such hatred toward one person by a judge."

"We have run an exceptional company -- never missing a loan payment, making banks hundreds of millions of dollars, developing some of the most iconic assets in the world. Yet today, the persecution of our family continues..." he said.

Trump attorney Alina Habba said Tuesday that Trump plans to immediately appeal what she called the judge's "fundamentally flawed" decision. In addition, Trump could seek an emergency stay of the trial.

The trial is set to proceed next week as the court is still required to decide six remaining causes of action alleged by Attorney General Letitia James, as well as the scope of the potential penalty, Engoron said on Wednesday.

The order on Tuesday, however, holds significant potential implications for the Trump Organization and its underlying assets, though the exact scope of the decision remains unclear.

Here's what to know about what the order means for the Trump family's business holdings:

Which businesses are affected?

The ruling on Tuesday took business certificates away from New York-based companies under the control of key Trump Organization figures, effectively stopping such firms from doing business in the state.

The order to cancel business certificates applies to any firm controlled or owned by Donald Trump and his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as former Trump Organization officials Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney, Engoron said.

That could mean the end of operations for iconic Trump properties such as Trump Tower, located in Midtown Manhattan; Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County; and The Trump Building, a 927-foot tall commercial tower on Wall Street.

Taken together, the businesses employ hundreds of people and make up a significant portion of the Trump Organization's holdings.

The order, however, does not apply to the Trump Organization as a whole. The company's entities outside of New York could still operate.

PHOTO: Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower in New York, on Sept. 6, 2023.
Former President Donald Trump departs Trump Tower in New York, on Sept. 6, 2023.
Kyle Mazza/NurPhoto via Shutterstock, FILE

What will happen to the businesses?

Within 10 days of the ruling, the parties to the lawsuit must recommend at least three potential receivers to manage the dissolution of the "canceled LLCs," Engoron said, referring to the businesses owned or controlled by the key individuals associated with the Trump Organization.

The process could result in the forced closure of the entities and the potential sale of their underlying assets.

What unanswered questions remain?

Significant questions remain about how Engoron's order will be carried out.

In a court hearing on Wednesday, Trump attorney Chris Kise asked Engoron to confirm which of Trump's hundreds of business entities would be covered by Tuesday's ruling.

"With all of these entities and all the employees of these entities, we just want to be sure we have some clear picture," Kise said.

Engoron did not issue a bench ruling or immediately respond to the question, instead punting the matter to a future private meeting between counsel.

The ultimate outcome of those deliberations will help determine the consequences of the decision for the parent company Trump Organization, a global portfolio of businesses that includes the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, and the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C.

The trial to begin on Monday will also determine the potential financial penalty to be incurred in the case, which would count in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The ultimate decision could also bar Trump from making real estate acquisitions and applying for loans in New York.

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