New York appeals court pauses breakup of Trump businesses during civil fraud trial

By Jack Queen

(Reuters) – A New York state appeals court on Friday temporarily halted the dissolution of some of Donald Trump’s most valuable properties as it weighs the former U.S. president’s appeal in a civil fraud case.

The ruling by the New York Appellate Division pauses enforcement of a September order by Justice Arthur Engoron, who found Trump and his family business committed fraud and stripped them of companies that control crown jewels of his real estate empire, including Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in Manhattan.

The court’s move is not an indication of how it will decide the appeal, which could take more than a year.

The appeals court in the same ruling rejected Trump’s bid to put on hold a trial that began last week to determine how much Trump, 10 of his companies, and his two adult sons must pay in penalties for allegedly inflating his net worth to secure more favorable loan terms.

Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has denied wrongdoing and said the case is part of a political witch hunt.

His lawyer, Christopher Kise, said in a statement on Friday that he was pleased the “court’s attempt to reach issues, entities and assets beyond the scope of this case has been suspended.”

The lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges Trump inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten savings on loan interest.

James is seeking at least $250 million in fines, a permanent ban against Trump and his sons Donald Jr and Eric from running businesses in New York and a five-year commercial real estate ban against Trump and the Trump Organization.

The trial is expected to run through mid-December. Trump, who attended the first three days of trial in Manhattan earlier this week, has said he will testify.

While this is a civil case, Trump faces other major legal challenges that have been a financial drain and made him the first sitting or former U.S. president to be criminally charged.

He has been charged in Washington over his efforts to undo his loss in the 2020 presidential election, in Georgia over moves to reverse election results there, in Florida over his handling of classified documents upon leaving office, and in New York over hush money payments to a porn star.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all cases and pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Bill Berkrot)