Trump unable to post bond for $454M US civil judgment, his lawyers say

Donald Trump’s lawyers told a New York appellate court Monday that it’s impossible for him to post a bond covering the full amount of his $454 million US civil fraud judgment while he appeals.

The former president’s lawyers wrote in a court filing that “obtaining an appeal bond in the full amount” of the judgment “is not possible under the circumstances presented.” Thirty surety companies through four separate brokers had been approached in order to obtain a bond, they said.

With interest, Trump owes $456.8 million. In all, he and co-defendants including his company and top executives owe $467.3 million. To obtain a bond, they would be required to post collateral worth $557 million, Trump’s lawyers said.

A state appeals court judge ruled last month that Trump must post a bond covering the full amount to pause enforcement of the judgment, which is to begin on March 25.

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Judge Arthur Engoron has ruled that Trump, his company and top executives, including his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., schemed for years to deceive banks and insurers by inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals.

Among other penalties, the judge put strict limitations on the ability of Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, to do business.

Highly unusual bond requirement: broker

Trump is asking a full panel of the state’s intermediate appellate court to stay the judgment while he appeals. His lawyers previously proposed posting a $100 million bond, but appeals court judge Anil Singh rejected that. A stay is a legal mechanism pausing collection while he appeals.

A real estate broker enlisted by Trump to assist in obtaining a bond wrote in an affidavit filed with the court that few bonding companies will consider issuing a bond of the size required.

The remaining bonding companies will not “accept hard assets such as real estate as collateral,” but “will only accept cash or cash equivalents [such as marketable securities].”

“A bond of this size is rarely, if ever, seen. In the unusual circumstance that a bond of this size is issued, it is provided to the largest public companies in the world, not to individuals or privately held businesses,” the broker, Gary Giulietti, wrote.

Trump appealed on Feb. 26, a few days after the judgment was made official. His lawyers have asked the Appellate Division of the state’s trial court to decide whether Engoron “committed errors of law and/or fact” and whether he abused his discretion or “acted in excess” of his jurisdiction.

Trump wasn’t required to pay his penalty or post a bond in order to appeal, and filing the appeal did not automatically halt enforcement of the judgment.

N.Y. officials could seize assets

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, has said that she will seek to seize some of Trump’s assets if he’s unable to pay the judgment.

Trump would receive an automatic stay if he were to put up money, assets or an appeal bond covering what he owes. He also had the option, which he’s now exercising, to ask the appeals court to grant a stay with a bond for a lower amount.

A dark complected woman wearing a dress and pearls is shown standing at a podium in front of an American flag.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is shown on Feb. 16 after holding a news conference following a ruling against Donald Trump ordering the former president to pay hundreds of millions of dollars as a result of a civil fraud judgment. (David Dee Delgado/Reuters)

Trump maintains that he is worth several billion dollars and testified last year that he had about $400 million in cash, in addition to properties and other investments.

The monthslong fraud trial featured testimony from Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who kickstarted the inquiries by testifying to Congress in 2019 that Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements provided to Deutsche Bank while trying to obtain financing to buy the Buffalo Bills.

It also led to a perjury charge and guilty plea from former Trump Organization financial officer Allen Weisselberg. He is expected to be sentenced to five months in jail at a hearing next month.

In January, a jury ordered Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. Trump recently posted a bond covering that amount while he appeals.

That’s on top of the $5 million a jury awarded Carroll in a related trial last year.

Trump also faces dozens of criminal charges in four separate indictments. While court dates had been set in three of those cases, currently none have definitive rescheduled dates, owing to either delays or legal questions that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon consider.

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