World

Donald Trump posts £140 million bond to avert asset seizure

The bond Mr Trump is posting with the court now is essentially a placeholder.

Republican presidential candidate former president Donald Trump (Paul Sancya/AP, File)
Election 2024 Trump Republican presidential candidate former president Donald Trump (Paul Sancya/AP, File) (Paul Sancya/AP)

Donald Trump posted a 175 million dollar (£140 million) bond on Monday in his New York civil fraud case, halting collection of the more than 454 million dollars (£363 million) he owes and preventing the state from seizing his assets to satisfy the debt while he appeals.

A New York appellate court had given the former president 10 days to put up the money after a panel of judges agreed last month to slash the amount needed to stop the clock on enforcement.

The bond Mr Trump is posting with the court now is essentially a placeholder, meant to guarantee payment if the judgment is upheld.

If that happens, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee will have to pay the state the whole sum, which grows with daily interest.

If Mr Trump wins, he will not have to pay the state anything and will get back the money he has put up now.

Until the appeals court intervened to lower the required bond, New York attorney general Letitia James had been poised to initiate efforts to collect the judgment, possibly by seizing some of Mr Trump’s marquee properties.

The court ruled after Mr Trump’s lawyers complained it was “a practical impossibility” to get an underwriter to sign off on a bond for the 454 million dollars, plus interest, that he owes.

Mr Trump is fighting to overturn a judge’s February 16 finding that he lied about his wealth as he fostered the real estate empire that launched him to stardom and the presidency.

The trial focused on how Mr Trump’s assets were valued on financial statements that went to bankers and insurers to get loans and deals.

Mr Trump denies any wrongdoing, saying the statements actually lowballed his fortune, came with disclaimers and were not taken at face value by the institutions that lent to or insured him.

The state courts’ Appellate Division has said it would hear arguments in September. A specific date has not been set. If the schedule holds, it will fall in the final weeks of the presidential race.

Under New York law, filing an appeal generally does not hold off enforcement of a judgment. But there’s an automatic pause if the person or entity obtains a bond guaranteeing payment of what is owed.

Mr Trump’s lawyers had told the appeals court more than 30 bonding companies were unwilling to take a mix of cash and real estate as collateral for a 454 million dollar-plus bond. Underwriters insisted on only cash, stocks or other liquid assets, the attorneys said.

They said most bonding companies require collateral covering 120% of the amount owed.

Mr Trump recently claimed to have almost a half-billion dollars in cash — along with billions of dollars worth of real estate and other assets — but said he wanted to have some cash available for his presidential run.

Recent legal debts have taken a sizable chunk out of Mr Trump’s cash reserves.

In addition to the 175 million dollars he had to put up in the New York case, Mr Trump has posted a bond and cash worth more than 97 million dollars (£77 million) to cover money he owes to writer E Jean Carroll while he appeals verdicts in a pair of federal civil trials.

Juries found that he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s and defamed her when she went public with the allegation in 2019. He denies all the allegations.

In February, Mr Trump paid the 392,638 dollars in legal fees a judge ordered him to cover for The New York Times and three reporters after he unsuccessfully sued them over a Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices.

In March, a British court ordered Mr Trump to pay to pay legal fees of £300,000 to a company he unsuccessfully sued over the so-called Steele dossier that contained salacious allegations about him. Mr Trump said those claims were false.