Judge leaves Trump asset sales up in the air after fraud ruling

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York judge who found Donald Trump liable for fraud on Wednesday stopped short of addressing whether his scathing decision would force the former U.S. president to sell his prized real estate.

Justice Arthur Engoron at a hearing on Wednesday was asked by Trump’s lawyer Christopher Kise about what he intended a day earlier by ordering the cancellation of business certificates that let some of Trump’s businesses operate.

Engoron’s ruling could force Trump to give up control to a receiver of properties including Manhattan’s Trump Tower, golf courses and his family estate in a Manhattan suburb.

Trump’s businesses “own physical assets like Trump Tower, like 40 Wall Street. Is the court under the impression those assets are to be sold or are they just to be managed under the monitor?” Kise asked.

“I’m not prepared to issue a ruling right now,” Engoron responded.

The judge appointed an independent monitor for the Trump Organization last year.

The hearing was surprisingly subdued, given the criticism that Trump, Kise and other supporters of the defendants leveled at Engoron and his decision a day earlier.

Engoron had found that Trump and his family business, the Trump Organization, repeatedly committed fraud over a decade by overvaluing his assets and net worth, in order to obtain better terms on loans and insurance.

The judge also found “conclusive evidence” that Trump had overstated his net worth as much as $2.2 billion.

Wednesday’s hearing was to discuss matters before a trial set for Oct. 2. In court, Kise, who had called Engoron’s decision “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law,” complimented the judge as “extremely intelligent.”

Both sides agreed to temporarily withdraw their motions to limit certain evidence and testimony, and to consider them as the trial progresses. Engoron also granted a defense request to have 30 days rather than 10 to recommend receivers.

The defendants have said they intended to appeal Engoron’s decision. If it were upheld, the decision would narrow the issues to be heard at trial.

Trump, with a commanding lead for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, on Tuesday denied committing fraud and called Engoron, a Democrat, “DERANGED.”

The civil case is unrelated to the four criminal indictments that Trump faces, including for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

A state appeals court is expected to rule this week on Trump’s bid to delay the trial.

Trump had sued Engoron this month, accusing him of ignoring a June appeals court ruling that according to Trump required gutting James’ case because many of her claims were too old.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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