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What Is The Civil Fraud Case Under Which Trump Has Been Handed a $355 Million Fine?

Justice Arthur F. Engoron ordered Donald Trump to pay $US354.9 million in penalties while his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr have each been asked to pay $US4 million.

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A New York judge on Friday ordered Donald Trump to pay fines totalling $US354.9 million in a civil fraud case for inflating the value of his assets. The order comes about three weeks after he was asked to pay $83 million for defamation against the writer E. Jean Carroll.

In 2021, the New York Attorney General's Office estimated his annual net worth at $2 billion, with his real estate ventures valued at $490 million. However, even for a man of his wealth, experts say the fines will be a heavy blow.

The Former US President has also been barred from working with any New York company for three years. 

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What is the civil fraud case?

The New York Attorney General (AG) Letitia James had in September 2022 filed a civil fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump accusing him of lying from 2011 to 2021 about asset values as well as his own net worth, to obtain better terms from lenders and insurers.

In a bench trial with no jury, Justice Arthur F. Engoron on Friday ordered Trump to pay $US354.9 million in penalties while his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr have each been asked to pay $US4 million.

Donald Trump has also been banned from working with a New York company for three years and his sons have been banned for two years.

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According to The New York Times, in a news conference from his home, Trump attacked Letitia James and Justice Engoron, calling them both “corrupt.” One of his lawyers, Alina Habba, described the ruling as “a manifest injustice — plain and simple.” She added that “given the grave stakes, we trust that the Appellate Division will overturn this egregious verdict.”

Trump’s true punishment could be far costlier because under state law he is also required to pay interest on the penalties, which James said puts him on the hook for a total of more than $450 million. The amount, which would be paid to the state, will grow until he pays, the Associated Press reported.

Trump’s ongoing criminal cases

The Republican is currently under indictment in a total of four criminal cases including the civil fraud case. 

In March 2023, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accused Trump of falsifying business records to pay hush money to women claiming sexual relations with Trump. A New York judge on Thursday denied Donald Trump's request to dismiss charges related to hush money paid to a porn star ahead of the 2016 elections. March 25 has been set as the date for the trial.

In June 2023, Special Counsel Jack Smith charged Trump with removing classified documents from the White House. Judge Aileen Cannon has set a trial date of May 20, 2024, rejecting Trump's request to delay in November but said would reconsider the timing in March.

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In August 2023, Donald Trump was indicted for attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the US state of Georgia. The four-count, 45-page indictment charged Republican Trump with conspiring to defraud the US by preventing Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden's victory and to deprive voters of their right to a fair election, Reuters reported. The trial, initially slated for March 4, faced a scheduling change after Judge Tanya Chutkan announced in early February that the date would be changed pending an appeals court decision on Trump's absolute immunity claim.

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