June 15, 2024

The Allegation: Trump was formally accused of securing a loan and settling it

A Facebook post dated March 27 (direct link, archive link) suggests that ex-President Donald Trump was indicted for a somewhat routine undertaking.

“So when Trump secures a loan and repays it with interest it’s seen as a crime but when you procure a student loan and don’t clear it, then Biden writes off the loan, robs money from taxpayers to pay it back it’s regarded as not a crime,” states the post.

The post gathered over 26,000 shares within 24 hours.

More insights From our Fact-Checking Team: The method we use to select and investigate assertions | Sign Up Newsletters | Facebook Page

Our Evaluation: Untrue

This post’s assertion is misleading in two aspects. One, the Trump issue mentioned in the post is civil, not criminal, thereby, Trump is not accused of a crime. Two, the New York’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Trump alleging fraudulent misrepresentation of his net worth in financial reports for loan and insurance purposes, not for securing and settling a loan.

Judge Stipulated Trump’s False Exaggeration of Wealth in Financial Records

The post references a lawsuit slapped against Trump in 2022 by New York Attorney General Letitia James. She claimed Trump and his corporation routinely inflated his net worth in financial reports for acquiring loans and insurance. James harnessed an old state law, which gives her the authority to probe fraud allegations in commercial dealings, as reported by the Associated Press.

James’ lawsuit stood before a civil – not criminal – court, hence, we can say Trump was not accused of criminality in the case, contrary to the post’s claim. The post is also inaccurate about the circumstances that led to the lawsuit – and eventually to a huge financial penalty imposed on Trump.

Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over the lawsuit, mandated in September of the previous year that Trump and his corporation committed fraudulent acts for many years by overestimating assets, inflating his net worth in financial statements including a number of his popular properties. A trial to decide the penalties Trump and his corporation would face was initiated in the early part of October that year and continued for over two months. Eventually, Engoron ordered Trump to cover up to $453.5 million in penalties and interest costs.

Fact Check: No substantiated claim of Trump selling ‘holy oil’ for legal costs

The financial penalties were on the grounds of ‘illicit gains’ Trump earned by inflating his wealth, inclusive of the money he saved from lower loan interest rates and gains from property sales he wouldn’t have been able to develop otherwise.

An appeals court decided in late March that Trump and his co-defendants need only post a $175 million bond or deposit to safeguard their assets while they appeal against the lawsuit.

Even though Trump was not accused in the New York fraud case, he faces criminal charges though in multiple other lawsuits.

The individual who posted the assertion on a social media platform couldn’t be contacted for comment.

Basis for our fact-check: