Judge appoints independent monitor to oversee Trump Org financial reporting in NY AG fraud suit

Real Estate

The public entrance to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York.
Robert Alexander | Archive Photos | Getty Images

A New York court Monday appointed retired Judge Barbara Jones to oversee some of the Trump Organization’s financial statements as part of a lawsuit alleging widespread fraud by former President Donald Trump, his businesses and his family members.

Both Trump and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who filed the sweeping fraud suit in September, had recommended Jones as their top pick to serve as independent monitor in the case.

Jones, who stepped down as a federal judge in early 2013, has been involved in multiple Trump-related legal battles in recent years. In 2018, she was appointed “special master” to identify potential attorney-client privilege claims in the slew of records seized as part of the criminal probe of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney at the time.

Last year, Jones was tapped to serve as special master to review materials seized from Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who had also been Trump’s personal lawyer.

Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the appointment in James’ case.

New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had earlier this month approved James’ request to appoint a third-party entity to oversee a range of Trump Org financial statements and other records.

The monitor will also ensure compliance with Engoron’s order barring the company from moving any recent non-cash assets without giving the court advance notice. James had warned the judge that the Trump Org appears to be trying to skirt New York rules by restructuring its business out of state. She noted that the Trump Organization had registered a new entity called Trump Organization II on the same day the lawsuit was filed.

Attorneys for Trump had opposed the AG’s request for the watchdog, calling it a “politically motivated attempt to nationalize a highly successful private enterprise.”

But Engoron ruled that those claims were “entirely without merit.” He wrote that a monitor’s job is different from a receiver who would “in effect, take control of the entire organization,” and that Trump’s legal team was conflating the two.

The judge ordered the defendants to provide the monitor with financial statements, statements of financial condition, asset valuation disclosures and other disclosures to lenders, insurers and other financial institutions.

He also ordered them to give the monitor “a full and accurate description of the structure and liquid or illiquid holdings and assets of the Trump Organization, its subsidiaries and all other affiliates” within two weeks of her appointment.

In his order Monday afternoon, Engoron wrote that Jones had confirmed in a phone call earlier that she would accept the appointment.

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