Donald Trump is liable for the “false valuation” of his golf course in Aberdeenshire, a US judge has ruled.
Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling on Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general, found the former American president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.
The court pointed to the Trump International Golf Links course in Menie where the valuation of the project was based on the number of homes in the area being four times higher than he was permitted to build.
Attorney general Letitia James argued this led to an overvaluation of the course by more than $160m.
Aberdeenshire Council granted planning permission in 2019 for 500 residential homes to be built alongside 50 “leisure/resort units” at the resort.
But a month later, court documents show a Statement of Financial Conditions (SFCs) submitted by the former US president valued the course on the basis that 2,035 private residential homes could be developed.
Trump denied inflating the size of the project, and argued that the golf course was undervalued, but that was rejected by the judge.
Engoron ruled that Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about his wealth on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favourable loan terms and lower insurance premiums.
He ordered that some of Trump’s business licences be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee the Trump Organisation’s operations.
“In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies,” Judge Engoron wrote in his 35-page ruling. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”
Judge Engoron is slated to hold a non-jury trial starting October 2 before deciding on those claims and any punishments he may impose.
Trump denies breaking the law.
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