• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

After fraud ruling, what happens to Donald Trump’s business?

After fraud ruling, what happens to Donald Trump's business?

Donald Trump may be forced to fork over a fortune under an order in his civil fraud case issued Friday, but it does not look like he will be losing his ritzy New York real estate holdings any time soon, legal experts said.

The decision from Justice Arthur Engoron in the long-running Manhattan Supreme Court case clarified the question after the judge issued a much-analyzed ruling in September that seemed to signal Trump might have to give up control of coveted properties.

The September ruling essentially ordered Trump and his family to relinquish their businesses in New York after Engoron found that the former president vastly overvalued his net worth and assets.

But Friday’s ruling, which ordered Trump to cough up a staggering penalty of more than $350 million, seemed to back away from the idea of requiring Trump to disgorge his real estate holdings, which include gold-plated Trump Tower on Fifth Ave., where Trump announced his 2016 presidential run.

Instead, the dense new 92-page order bolsters the power of an independent monitor of the Trump Organization and creates a new internal compliance officer within the former president’s family business. Some had said Engoron did not have the power to pull Trump’s business certificates.

Cars pass Trump Tower in New York on March 22, 2023.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Cars pass Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, March 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The latest decision “sidesteps the whole controversy” about Trump’s real estate holdings, because it does not pull Trump’s certificates, said Kevin O’Brien, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn and a partner at Ford O’Brien Landy LLP.

“They can still do business in New York — but there are going to be these monitors in place reviewing every financial representation the Trump folks make,” O’Brien said.

Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, said in a text message that Friday’s order amounted to a “complete reversal of his last castration of the Trump business.”

Engoron’s decision prevents Trump from leading any New York company for three years, and bars his sons Eric and Don Jr. from leading any New York company for two years.

“They’re basically just going to torture him for three years,” said Joshua Stein, a New York commercial real estate lawyer.

Outside of the case, Trump’s real estate footprint in his hometown has been shrinking in recent years.

Among the losses: The city ended its contracts with the Trump Organization after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, sending Central Park’s carousel and the Wollman and Lasker ice skating rinks into new management.

In September, the Trump Organization sold its right to operate the public golf course at Ferry Point in the Bronx. The Bally’s casino chain, now in charge of the course, renamed the site last month.

It is unclear who will lead the business in the coming years. Trump’s legal team vowed to appeal Engoron’s order. In a statement, his lawyer Alina Habba described the decision as a “manifest injustice.”

But Bailey said the 77-year-old Republican from Queens was likely pleased to learn that the loss of his business certificates was off the table.

“Although hard to feel relief when owing a few hundred million after a verdict, this former president absolutely must be feeling that relief in spades,” Bailey wrote.

With Molly Crane-Newman

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