PoliticsWho is Don Hankey, the tycoon who paid Trump's million-dollar bail?

Who is Don Hankey, the tycoon who paid Trump’s million-dollar bail?

A week after an appeals court granted him a 10-day extension, Donald Trump posted $175 million bail after being tried for civil fraud in New York. The original value of the fine was USD 464 million, but it was reduced by the court.

After an 11-week trial, the former president and the rest of the executives of the Trump Organization were found responsible for exaggerating the value of the company’s properties to negotiate favorable conditions with banks and insurance companies, between 2011 and 2021. He was fined $354 million, along with more than $110 million in interest.

However, once Judge Arthur Engoron delivered the verdict on February 16, the Republican presidential candidate’s lawyers (after contacting more than 30 guarantor companies through different brokerage agencies) protested the “practical impossibility” of raise the USD 464 million required as bail to appeal the case.

This meant that the “crown jewels” of Trump’s New York real estate empire could end up being seized by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. But the appeals committee decided to grant him an unexpected extension last week.

Trump managed to pay the bail of USD 175 million this Monday, April 1, which for the moment prevents James from taking possession of his properties (for the moment) and allows the magnate to buy time until a court evaluates his appeal, which which will not happen before the month of September.

The former president obtained the money to pay the bail from the surety company Knight Specialty Insurance.

“Keeping up to his promise, President Trump has paid bail,” Alina Habba, the former president’s lawyer, told ABC News. “She hopes to vindicate his rights on appeal and overturn this unjust verdict,” she added.

At the head of the endorsement company, Knight Specialty, is Californian executive Don Hankey, who has been described by Lisa Rubin, the legal correspondent of the news channel MSNBC, as “the king of subprime auto loans”. Hankey’s specialty is financing car buyers with poor credit at high interest rates.

In a 2015 article, the magazine Forbes wrote: “Hankey repossesses 250 cars a day, and his debt collectors have been known to alter their phone ID to make the debtor think they are contacting him from the local pizza place.”

Hankey is ranked #128 on the list of Forbes of the 400 richest people in the US in 2023. He is also the 317th billionaire on the list of the same year published by the magazine.

He is also a generous donor to the Republican Party, and the largest shareholder of Axos Bank, founded in the city of San Diego in 2000 under the name Bank of Internet USA. In 2022, this bank refinanced loans requested for the Trump Tower complex in Manhattan, as well as for the resort Trump-owned golf course in Miami, Florida. The loans were for USD 100 million and USD 125 million respectively. These debts must be paid off by 2032.

Who is Don Hankey, the tycoon who paid Trump's million-dollar bail?Former President Donald Trump arrives at his offices after a court hearing.

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Former President Donald Trump arrives at his offices after a court hearing.

(AFP via Getty Images)

That same year, Axos Bank was also involved in the $375 million sale of the Trump International hotel in Washington DC.

After Knight Specialty’s role in the guarantee payment was revealed, Hankey told ABC: “That’s what we do at Knight Insurance, and we’re happy to be able to support the former president in this situation. “It is above all a business decision, although I am also a supporter of the party.”

He revealed that his company had previously been discussing the possibility of paying the full amount of the debt.

He also claimed that Trump had provided a cash guarantee.

“It was a relatively low figure, and Donald Trump provided the entire cash guarantee amount.”

Hankey told the station that he did not remember whether Trump had also used bonds as collateral for the full bail, but said that his organization conducted a review of the former president’s offer, and that it included “high-grade, investment-grade bonds.” ”.

“We are sure that there are good guarantees,” he added.

If Trump loses his appeal against the fraud verdict, and has failed to pay off the debt in full by then, James could begin seizing many of his most prized properties, such as Trump Tower or the Trump Building.

Last month, anticipating that the defendant would not be able to post bail, the prosecutor had begun taking action to seize Trump’s assets in Westchester County (New York).

Translation by Sara Pignatiello

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