A civil trial on alleged fraud by former president Donald Trump and his company began Monday, with attorneys for New York Attorney General Letitia James and the disgraced former president presenting opposing views on whether he misrepresented business deals by drastically inflating the value of his real estate properties.
Both sides are expected to rely on testimony by accountants, appraisers, bankers and consultants who can speak to the reasoning Trump and his executives may have had in determining the values of his properties to seek business loans and insurance policies.
James (D) has alleged in her $250 million suit that Trump and his executives knowingly and intentionally misstated not only the values, but also the basic facts of his properties, such as the square footage or zoning rules, to get better terms from partners.
She says Trump’s use of inflated financial statements constitutes rampant fraud, while Trump’s side says that despite inaccuracies, the documents were an earnest effort to assess the value of his hotels, office buildings, luxury condominiums and golf courses.
James won a major victory last week in a pretrial ruling when Judge Arthur Engoron ordered that the former president be stripped of his New York business licenses, the first step in what experts say will probably lead to a sell-off or transfer of those properties barring a successful appeal by Trump.
Trump was not required to be in court Monday and did not testify although he may testify later in the trial.
Instead, Trump spoke outside the courtroom before, during, and after the hearing trying to create political expposure that would turn the trial into a campaign event that would benefit his Republican 2024 presidential candidacy.