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US$454 million judgment against Trump is finalized, starting clock on appeal in civil fraud case

 The civil fraud judgment against former U.S. president Donald Trump was finalized in New York on Friday, making official a verdict that leaves Trump on the hook for more than $454 million in fines and interest. (Shannon Stapleton/Pool Photo via AP, File) The civil fraud judgment against former U.S. president Donald Trump was finalized in New York on Friday, making official a verdict that leaves Trump on the hook for more than $454 million in fines and interest. (Shannon Stapleton/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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The staggering civil fraud judgment against Donald Trump was finalized in New York on Friday, making official a verdict that leaves the former president on the hook for more than US$454 million in fines and interest.

The procedural step by the New York county clerk starts the clock on Trump's appeals process, while allowing the debt to begin racking up post-judgment interest of nearly US$112,000 each day, according to a spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case.

In his Feb. 16 ruling, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled that Trump lied for years about his wealth in order to secure favorable loans and make deals that helped prop up his real estate empire. He was ordered to pay US$354.9 million in penalties plus nearly US$100 million in interest.

The formalized verdict gives Trump a 30-day window to appeal, which he has vowed to do. Within that same time frame, he must deposit “sufficient funds” in a court-controlled account or secure a bond for the total amount, James's office said.

Earlier this week, James said she would seek to seize some of the former president’s assets if he’s unable to cover the bill, though the appeal is likely to halt collection of his penalty while the process plays out.

Trump has denied wrongdoing. His lawyers had been seeking to delay the filing after wrangling with state lawyers and the judge over what that paperwork should say.

On Thursday, Engoron rejected lawyer Clifford Robert’s request that enforcement of the penalty be delayed 30 days, writing in an email: “You have failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay. I am confident that the Appellate Division will protect your appellate rights.”

Starting Friday, the interest on Trump’s penalty will increase to US$111,984 per day, rather than the US$87,502 per day he had owed before the verdict was made official. That’s because post-judgment interest is calculated on the total judgment — the underlying US$355 million penalty, plus the nearly US$100 million he racked up in pre-judgment interest.

Before the judgment was entered, Trump’s interest was charged only on the underlying penalty. In all, Trump and his co-defendants will be charged US$114,554 per day in interest until they pay, according to The Associated Press’ calculations.

That includes US$1,149 per day from each of Trump’s two eldest sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., and US$272 per day from former longtime Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg. Those amounts will continue to accrue even while they appeal. If Trump and his co-defendants succeed in getting the verdict overturned, they might not owe anything. 

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