Accounting expert testified on Trump's behalf in New York civil trial: "No evidence of fraud"

The former president attended his civil trial at the Manhattan courthouse to criticize prosecutor Letitia James' case and praise an appellate ruling that came back in his favor.

It was a good day for Donald Trump in New York. The former president attended the civil trial for alleged accounting fraud by Attorney General Letitia James and saw firsthand how a defense witness left critical testimony in his favor. However, there is still a long way to go, as the prosecution will conduct a cross-examination tomorrow.

Eli Bartov, a professor of accounting at New York University's Stern School of Business, assured Judge Arthur Engoron, the prosecution and the defense that the Trump Organization did not commit accounting fraud.

Bartov testified that former President Trump's financial statements did not violate accounting principles and suggested that any problems in the books could be a common mistake.

"My main finding is that there is no evidence whatsoever of any accounting fraud," Bartov testified, "On another end, my analysis shows that the statements of financial condition were not materially mistaken."

"So in your expert opinion, the AG's claims have no merit?" asked Judge Engoron, who in September had already ruled that Trump and his family committed fraud and ordered the dissolution of the former president's New York real estate empire.

"That is absolutely my opinion. Absolutely," Bartov replied.

During his testimony, the accounting expert argued that Trump's brand is worth $3 billion. He said he had looked for clues in depositions or reports as to whether there was anything out of the ordinary but that he "couldn't find a single provision that was violated. I couldn't find a single one."

Barton also explained why a credit report from Deutsche Bank and the Trump Organization on Trump Tower in 2023 disagreed on capitalization rates, which is the amount of return a real estate asset is expected to produce or generate in a year.

"The AG interpreted this as fraud. This is not fraud. This is obvious. This is an expected difference," said Bartov, who later, in a heated moment, argued with the attorney general's lawyer, Louis Solomon, who objected that some of the testimony was out of order because he was not a banker.

Barton shouted, "Shame on yourself, talking to me like that!"

"You make up allegations. I'm here to tell the truth," Bartov said, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself."

A reliable witness?

Trump, during a break in the trial, again lashed out at prosecutor James' case, calling it a witch hunt.

"I don't know him, but he's an expert witness. And he found no fraud whatsoever. He found no accounting fraud whatsoever," Trump said. "And like everyone else, he said, 'What are we doing here?' What are we doing here? This is a political witch hunt. This is meant to influence an election. This also comes from the White House. This is not just a state matter because the White House is controlling district attorneys."

However, the prosecution said Bartov is an unreliable witness who was basically put there by the defense to tell the Trump Organization's side of the story because of his remuneration for testifying at trial.

"Bartov's affidavit shows that he was paid at a rate of $1,350 per hour. In a deposition from July, Bartov estimated that he spent 250 hours preparing his report and 150 hours preparing a rebuttal report. That would amount to an estimated $520,000," The Messenger reported, apropos of the discussion about the reliability of Bartov's testimony.

Trump celebrated another appeal in his favor

While Judge Engoron in September had upheld James' allegations that Trump inflated the value of his assets by billions of dollars to profit before financial entities, an appeals court in October ruled that the dissolution of the real estate empire should be stayed until the completion of the civil trial.

On Thursday, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

The former president celebrated the appeal, which again favored him, "The appellate division, New York State, just gave us a very good ruling."

"Appreciate it. I think the country appreciates it," he added.