Donald Trump expected to attend civil fraud trial opening

Former US President Donald Trump is expected to appear in a New York court on Monday at the opening of a civil fraud trial which leaves his business empire in jeopardy.

Mr Trump, his two adult sons, and the Trump Organization, are accused of inflating the value of their properties by more than $2bn (£1.65bn).

Last week, a New York judge ruled Mr Trump was liable for business fraud.

Mr Trump’s legal team had tried and failed to delay the case.

Last Tuesday, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Mr Trump had misrepresented his wealth by hundreds of millions of dollars.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is now seeking a fine of $250m (£204m) and a ban on Mr Trump doing business in his home state.

As a result of the action, the Trump Organization could be forced to relinquish control of its properties to a court-appointed receiver, or ultimately sell some of its landmarks.

Mr Trump said late on Sunday that he planned to be present at the start of the trial on Monday morning.

“I’m going to Court tomorrow morning to fight for my name and reputation,” he wrote on his Truth Social platform. “This whole case is a sham!!!”

The case is a bench trial, meaning it will be decided not by a jury but by Judge Engoron. He has said it could take as long as three months to hear the case.

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

The ex-president has already attacked the judge, accusing him of carrying out what he claimed was a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Judge Engoron’s ruling last week resolved the key claim of fraud in Ms James’ lawsuit, leaving the trial to focus on a more narrow set of six remaining fraud claims and on determining penalties against Mr Trump.

Among several decisions, Judge Engoron determined Mr Trump overvalued his Mar-a-Lago, Florida property by 2,300% and claimed his penthouse at Trump Tower in New York was three times its actual size.

Ms James alleged Mr Trump issued these false records to get better terms on loans and insurance deals and to pay less tax.

The civil fraud case is one of several legal battles the former president is facing, including criminal charges over election interference and handling of classified documents.

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