Billionaire Fan’s Firm Provides $175 Million Bond for Trump

Billionaire Fan’s Firm Provides 5 Million Bond for Trump

(Bloomberg) — A billionaire Donald Trump supporter, whose California company is known for subprime auto loans and who has ties to one of the former president’s banks, has offered to arrange his appeal bond for $175 million in the New York state civil fraud lawsuit, although he said politics had nothing to do with it.

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Don Hankey, whose fortune comes from car dealerships, real estate and financial services, is president of Knight Specialty Insurance Co., which posted Trump’s bond Monday, three days before a court-imposed deadline. That gives Trump a lifeline by withholding a $454 million judgment while he appeals.

Hankey said Knight contacted Trump’s team to offer his services after hearing about the former president’s difficulties in securing bail, which was initially set at 120 percent of the judgment, or about $540 million. The appeals court lowered bail to $175 million after Trump said he did not have enough cash.

“I heard they were looking for someone and that’s what Knight Insurance is doing,” Hankey, whose net worth is estimated at $7.4 billion by Forbes magazine, said in an interview. “We have the liquidity and I’m just happy to provide it.”

Read more: Donald Trump is richer than ever – but still cash strapped

The 80-year-old billionaire said his support for Trump had nothing to do with his decision to offer his company’s services to the former president, who is campaigning to return to the White House in the November election.

“Yes, I’ve voted for him in the past, but this is a trade deal and that’s what we’re doing,” Hankey said. “I have never met Donald Trump or spoken to him on the phone.”

Hankey said he was also one of the largest non-institutional investors in San Diego-based Axos Bank, which refinanced Trump Tower for $100 million in 2022, at a time when asset valuations of the Trump Organization were called into question as part of the fraud investigation in New York. Hankey said he only knew about the deal after the fact and that his ties to Axos had nothing to do with Trump’s.

Axos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The niche call bond industry was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after Trump lost two civil lawsuits with combined damages of more than half a billion dollars. The court’s requirement that bonds be equal to 110% to 120% of a judgment is intended to ensure that the loser of the lawsuit will pay the winner if their appeal fails. But Trump said 30 companies he contacted would not take his real estate as collateral and would only accept cash, raising the prospect of a “fire sale” of his assets or seizure by the State.

Hankey said Trump’s lawyers used all cash collateral for the bond, after initially offering 20% ​​cash and 80% investment-grade bonds.

“We were OK with investment-grade bonds,” Hankey said, adding that the decision to use all the cash came from Trump’s team.

Read more: Donald Trump is richer than ever – but still cash strapped

Knight is one of several affiliated companies that are part of the Los Angeles-based Hankey Group, a local empire that also owns Westlake Financial Services, Hankey Capital and a Toyota dealership in North Hollywood.

In January, a jury awarded Trump $83.3 million in damages in a defamation lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll. Weeks later, the judge in the New York fraud case ordered Trump to pay $454 million for inflating the value of his assets in banking transactions for more than a decade to obtain better loan conditions.

Trump used a Chubb Ltd. unit. to arrange his bail in the Carroll case. But Trump said the sheer size of the fine in the New York fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James made bail difficult, if not impossible, to set.

The bond also suspends about $10 million in fines against Trump’s sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., as well as former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, who are also defendants.

Read more: Following Trump and his trials: A timeline of court dates

(Updates with Hankey’s ties to Axos Bank.)

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