Donald Trump has seven days to give to a state court a list of companies that will lose their New York business licenses after a judge ruled last week that he had committed financial fraud.
On Thursday, New York judge Arthur Engoron issued an order that will carry out Trump’s punishment for a pre-trial ruling he made that found Trump and others within the Trump Organization created false and misleading financial statement that inflated his net worth.
Engoron ruled that the former US president will lose his business certificates in the state, essentially limiting his ability to run his real estate company. The list of companies will be given to retired federal judge Barbara Jones, currently the court-appointed monitor overseeing the Trump Organization.
It emerged on the fourth day of the trial that Engoron is now giving Trump’s lawyers until 26 October to submit a list of names of potential receivers. The receiver will oversee the dissolution of the companies’ business licenses.
Seeking to prevent an end run around his ruling, Engoron told the defendants to give Jones advance notice of any application for new business licenses in any jurisdiction and any attempts to create new entities to “hold or acquire the assets” of a company that’s being dissolved under the ruling.
Also on Thursday, an accountant who prepared Donald Trump’s financial statements was back on the witness stand for a fourth day Thursday in the New York civil fraud trial examining whether the former president exaggerated his wealth.
Trump himself did not attend the proceedings Thursday, after choosing to be there – and avail himself of the news cameras waiting outside – for the three prior days.
The business fraud trial stems from New York attorney general Letitia James’ lawsuit alleging that Trump and his business ginned up financial statements that vastly overvalued Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago and other assets. Trump denies any wrongdoing and says James, a Democrat, is just trying to damage his 2024 presidential campaign. He is leading the Republican field.
The witnesses so far have been two accountants who worked on the financial statements, which went to banks, insurers and others.
James’s legal team is working to show that Trump and his company had complete control over the preparation of the statements, with the accountants relying on information the Trump Organization provided.
The defense has been trying to show that if there were problems with the financial statements, the flubs were the mistakes of Donald Bender, Trump’s longtime personal accountant. Trump lawyers on Thursday continued an exacting cross-examination of Bender, who worked on the statements for years.
Bender insisted that he asked Trump Organization executives for all required documents but did not always get them. He said he learned about some missing appraisals only when Manhattan prosecutors questioned him during their investigation into Trump’s business practices.
Defense lawyer Jesus Suarez asked why Bender did not notice the appraisals’ absence earlier.
“I asked them for appraisals,” Bender said. “They represented they gave me everything I needed.”
After Bender testified that he had a “specific memory” of asking a Trump lieutenant for all available appraisals, defense lawyer Clifford Robert pointed out that Bender had replied to dozens of other questions by saying he did not remember.
“You don’t recall texts, you don’t recall emails, you don’t recall phone calls,” said Robert, who represents Trump sons and company executive vice-presidents Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Robert suggested the accountant was worried that his testimony could lead to trouble with accounting regulators or law enforcement authorities.
Bender’s testimony finally wrapped up at about noon, with Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney taking the stand next.
The non-jury trial concerns allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. James is seeking $250m in penalties and a ban on Trump doing business in New York.
The Associated Press contributed to this report