Former President Donald Trump has warned that if he loses his real estate fraud case in New York, businesses will flee New York.
"Businesses are watching this case," Trump told reporters outside a Manhattan courtroom on Dec. 6, adding "No business will go back into New York, no business will frankly stay in New York, some businesses are talking about leaving New York because of this action, this very serious action."
Trump and his organization have been accused of overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth in order to obtain preferential terms from banks, insurers, and other entities. Earlier, the Trump-hating judge presiding over the case issued a summary judgment which found Trump and his company liable for fraud, with the ongoing trial addressing conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsification of business records.
Trump, who's polling in 1st place as the GOP nominee for 2024 by a wide margin, maintains his innocence, denouncing the case as a politically charged effort to derail his presidential campaign. “If you look at the case, we did nothing wrong, there were no victims,” he insisted.
Trump's defense gained some support from a Deutsche Bank executive, David Williams, who testified that discrepancies in asset values between a client and the bank are not uncommon. Williams' testimony shed light on the banking industry's inner workings, revealing that Deutsche Bank, which loaned hundreds of millions to Trump, often adjusted clients' stated asset values and viewed these figures as subjective.
In a twist, Williams pointed out that the bank's lower valuation of Trump's wealth compared to his own figures was not alarming but rather a conservative measure. He emphasized that such adjustments were standard practice and part of a financial "stress test."
Last week, a Florida real estate agent testified that Trump's Mar-a-Lago property is worth at least $1 billion.
“It’s something breathtaking. It’s something amazing to see,” he said of Mar-a-Lago, adding that he had valued it at over $1.2 billion in 2021. He also told the court that President Trump's company had actually undervalued Mar-a-Lago by about half.
The heart of the attorney general's argument is that Trump inflated his asset values by up to $2.2 billion for favorable loan terms, a claim Trump counters by highlighting the non-victimization of banks and the profits they earned from interest on loans extended to him.
As Trump's legal battle rages on, with him taking the stand and labeling the lawsuit a "witch hunt" and "election interference," and now - the former president warns that it will set a very bad precedent going forward for businesses operating in New York.