No quick end to Trump’s real-estate business after New York fraud case

A Manhattan judge dealt Donald Trump a powerful blow on Friday, delivering a civil penalty totaling more than $450 million and giving him a three-year ban from the notoriously bare-knuckle world of New York real estate.

Trump and his Trump Organization are also barred for three years from borrowing from banks and financial firms registered in New York, per the judge’s order.

Yet, the decision in the civil fraud case brought by New York state Attorney General Letitia James isn’t expected to deliver a knockout punch to the former U.S. president or the Trump Organization — at least not immediately.

“The Trump Organization is going to exist,” said Evan Gotlob, a partner at law firm Saul Ewing and a former New York City prosecutor who focuses on public corruption and white-collar investigations. “It is going to be hamstrung, but I think it still exists.”

Gotlob said that while the Trump Organization likely can withstand losing hundreds of millions of dollars from the fine, the three-year financing ban “might be the worst part,” since the real-estate industry runs on borrowed money. Friday’s decision could also sweep up foreign lenders with registered affiliates in New York.

“For real-estate development, you need access to money,” he said. 

Weeks before New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron’s decision arrived, Trump said that he would be appealing the ruling. Legal experts say the appeals process can take weeks, if not months. A stay order would suspend the decision from going into effect during the appeal.

“Today’s ruling is a gross miscarriage of justice,” a Trump Organization spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “If the Attorney General is permitted to retroactively insert herself into private commercial transactions between sophisticated parties, no business transaction entered into in the State of New York will be beyond the Attorney General’s purview.”

A historic ruling

Trump inherited his real-estate company from his father in the late 1970s, with his personal life and business dealings frequently becoming tabloid fodder over the next four decades.

Trump’s real-estate business also gave rise to his branding business, a stint as a television personality and his ascent to America’s highest elected office.

The judge’s decision, if upheld, seeks to temporarily ban Trump and his two grown sons from New York’s real-estate industry. But it also raises practical questions about how to untangle the Trumps from their web of business partnerships, existing lenders, tenants and investors who own bonds that financed their properties.

The ruling extends a court-appointed monitor’s oversight of the Trump Organization to at least three years. But that won’t be a simple undertaking. 

To get a handle on Trump’s sprawling business dealings, the monitor already has identified 415 distinct business entities tied to the company — many relating to borrowing entities and licensing and…

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