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Trump liable for fraud, judge finds in civil case

Donald Trump committed fraud by repeatedly misrepresenting his wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars, a New York judge has ruled.

The ruling, part of a civil case brought against the former president and his family business, said he defrauded banks and insurers for years. It is a major blow to Mr Trump that will likely hamper his ability to do business in the state.

It will also make it easier for prosecutors to establish damages.

Mr Trump and the other defendants have argued that they never committed fraud.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Mr Trump last September, accusing him, his two adult sons and the Trump Organization of inflating the value of their properties by more than $2bn (£1.65bn) to suit the needs of their business.

She claimed the defendants issued false records and financial statements in order to get better terms on loans and insurance deals, and to pay less tax.

The scathing decision on Tuesday was issued by Judge Arthur Engoron in the New York state court, after Ms James asked for a summary ruling before the trial begins.

She argued that finding certain facts to be beyond dispute would speed up the trial.

The ruling resolves the key claim of fraud made in her lawsuit, meaning the trial will now focus on a more narrow set of six remaining claims and determine the size of any potential penalty.

The trial is scheduled to begin on 2 October and could last until at least December. Ms James is seeking $250m in penalties and a ban on Mr Trump doing business in his home state.

In his ruling, Judge Engoron said “the documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business”.

“That is a fantasy world, not the real world,” he wrote.

– aljazeera