A New York judge will allow an independent monitor to oversee Donald Trump’s business interests and has imposed restrictions on the Trump Organization’s assets pending a trial over allegations of widespread fraud.
“Given [the] defendants’ demonstrated propensity to engage in persistent fraud, failure to grant such an injunction could result in extreme prejudice to the people of New York,” Judge Arthur Engoron wrote in an order handed down in a New York state court in Manhattan on Thursday.
The New York attorney-general’s office, which brought a wide-ranging case against the Trump Organization and members of the Trump family in September, had told the court earlier that the Trump companies were attempting to move money out of the state’s jurisdiction.
On the day the case was brought, the Trump Organization created another company called Trump Organization II, incorporated in Delaware, lawyers for New York attorney-general Letitia James told the court.
“Today’s decision will ensure that Donald Trump and his companies cannot continue the extensive fraud that we uncovered,” James said after the ruling. “No number of lawsuits, delay tactics, or threats will stop our pursuit of justice.”
Lawyers for Trump filed suit in Florida late on Wednesday, claiming the New York attorney-general’s office was engaged in an “unapologetic crusade” that unlawfully crossed state boundaries.
But James’s office said the move showed Trump was “attempting to shield the key documents governing the structure of his business conglomerate and ownership of his business assets from review”, and argued it made the need for an injunction all the more urgent.
Trump’s lawyers claimed James, a Democrat, was engaged in a “politically motivated” attempt to destroy the former president’s businesses. In filings to the court, they argued the injunction “would effectively allow the NYAG to nationalise the Trump business empire”.
The attorney-general’s lawsuit concerns allegations the Trump businesses inflated the value of its assets, as well as those of the former president’s family, by billions of dollars over the course of a decade, in order to attract favourable financing from banks.
If the attorney-general’s case is successful, the court could permanently bar Donald Trump and his children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation, and ban the former president from buying property in the state. The Trump businesses could be forced to pay back as much as $250mn.