Monday 5 December 2016

Donald Trump to pay $25m to settle Trump University fraud lawsuits

Karen Freifeld and Dan Levine

Published 19/11/2016 | 07:04

U.S. Republican president-elect Donald Trump appears at a campaign roundtable event in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo
U.S. Republican president-elect Donald Trump appears at a campaign roundtable event in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Donald Trump agreed on Friday to pay $25 million to settle fraud lawsuits over his Trump University real estate seminars, in what New York's attorney general called a "stunning reversal" for the U.S. president-elect.

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The lawsuits had dogged Trump, who denied any wrongdoing, throughout his campaign. They led to one of the more controversial moments of his run when he claimed the judge overseeing two of the cases was biased because he was of Mexican ancestry.

The settlement was announced by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who said it followed repeated refusals by Trump "to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university."

Lawyers for Trump had argued against students, who claimed they were they were lured by false promises into paying up to $35,000 to learn Trump's real estate investing "secrets" from his "hand-picked" instructors.

Three lawsuits relating to Trump University will be covered by the deal: two class actions suits in California and a New York case brought by Schneiderman. The agreement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego.

Trump will not admit any wrongdoing under the agreement. His attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, acknowledged Trump had previously vowed to fight the case.

Marchers approach a freeway onramp guarded by police during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Cole Howard
Marchers approach a freeway onramp guarded by police during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Cole Howard
Police detain a demonstrator during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
People take part in a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump at the Washington Square park in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
People take part in a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump at the Washington Square park in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
People take part in a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump at the Washington Square park in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Protesters lock arms during a standoff with a police car along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in St. Anthony, North Dakota, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
People take part in a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump at the Washington Square park in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Paul Watts, of Graffiti Removal Services, works for free on clean up after a protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
People take part in a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump at the Washington Square park in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
Paul Watts, of Graffiti Removal Services, works for free on clean up after a protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola TEMPLATE OUT
A pedestrian walks by a boarded up business after a protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
Pedestrians walk by a boarded up business after a protest to the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola
A motorist who was caught in the middle of a riot threatens a demonstrator with detergent during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
A motorist who was caught in the middle of a riot threatens a demonstrator with detergent during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
Demonstrators push over a fence during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Cole Howard
A demonstrator sits in the street during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Cole Howard
A demonstrator sprays graffiti during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Cole Howard
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A demonstrator sets a news rack on fire as another wields a baseball bat (R) during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
Demonstrators break a shop window during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
Police block a freeway entrance during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 11, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
Smoke rises during a protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/William Gagan
Interstate 84 eastbound into the city is shut down as a result of protests against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States, in Portland, Oregon, U.S. November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola

The settlement demonstrated Trump's desire to set his personal feelings aside in order to work on issues facing the county, Petrocelli said.

"President-elect Trump has laser focus on moving forward. It's time to move on," Petrocelli told reporters on Friday.

Schneiderman and attorneys for the students praised the deal.

"Today's $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university," Schneiderman said in a statement.

At a court hearing on Friday, students' attorney Jason Forge said that out of the $25 million proposed settlement, $4 million will be earmarked for students represented by Schneiderman who were not part of the California class actions, as well as administrative costs.

Class action lawyers for the students will not seek attorneys fees, but reimbursement for costs, he said.

Curiel, who is presiding over the two California cases, had urged both sides to settle. Trump said during his election campaign that Curiel, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrant parents, could not be impartial because of Trump's campaign pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to control illegal immigration.

In court on Friday, Trump lawyer Petrocelli praised Curiel for his hard work on the case.

Curiel said he hoped the settlement could be part of a healing process after the U.S. election "that this country very sorely needs."

Reuters

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