Trump can’t secure $454 million appeal bond in New York fraud case, his lawyers say

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Trump can’t secure $454 million appeal bond in New York fraud case, his lawyers say

Former U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a news story about New York Attorney General Letitia James as he speaks to the media at one of his properties at 40 Wall Street following closing arguments at his civil fraud trial on January 11, 2024 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Donald Trump does not have enough cash to obtain an appeal bond that would prevent New York’s attorney general from seizing his real estate assets to satisfy a $454 million civil fraud judgment, his lawyers indicated in a court filing Monday.

Trump’s lawyers in the filing said it has proved “impossible” for the former president to get a bond that would secure the full judgment he faces while he appeals the verdict ordering him to pay it.

The filing asks a panel of five Manhattan appeals court judges to let Trump avoid having to post a bond while he challenges a judge’s verdict that he, the Trump Organization and other defendants committed business fraud.

If the panel does not approve that request, Attorney General Letitia James could begin a process to seize Trump’s properties on March 25.

James, who had successfully sued Trump in the case, previously said she would take that step if he did not post an appeal bond or pay off the judgment.

The filing in Manhattan Supreme Court’s appellate division says Trump’s team contacted about 30 surety companies but did not find one willing to underwrite the bond.

Trump’s lawyer wrote that obtaining a bond of that size would require “cash reserves approaching $1 billion,” which neither the former president nor the Trump Organization company has.

Under New York court rules, Trump must post an appeal bond to avoid James moving to collect on the fraud judgment.

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Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung in a statement said, “A bond of this size would be an abuse of the law, contradict bedrock principals of our Republic, and fundamentally undermine the rule of law in New York.”

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron in February ordered Trump and his co-defendants to pay a total of $464 million in damages and interest for violating a New York anti-fraud statute.

Engoron ruled that Trump, his two adult sons, the Trump Organization, and the company’s top executives had fraudulently inflated the value of real estate assets for years to boost his net worth and get better loan terms and other financial benefits.

Trump was ordered to pay the lion’s share of the judgment: $454 million. Post-judgment interest on Trump’s share of the damages continues to accrue at a rate of nearly $112,000 a day.

Trump, who has secured the Republican presidential nomination, in a deposition last year claimed to have “substantially in excess of $400 million in cash.”

Despite that, Monday’s nearly 5,000-page court filing by his lawyers detailed his inability to get a bond to secure the full judgment.

The filing includes an affidavit from Gary Giulietti, president of the Northeast division of the Lockton Companies, which he describes as the largest privately held insurance brokerage firm in the world.

Giulietti, who was hired by Trump to help him get a bond, wrote, “Despite scouring the market, we have been unsuccessful in our effort … for the simple reason that obtaining an appeal bond for $464 million is a practical impossibility under the circumstances presented.”

Only a handful of bond surety companies are approved by the Treasury Department to underwrite a bond that large, and many of those firms will only issue a single bond to a maximum of $100 million, Giulietti wrote.

He also said that none of those companies will accept non-liquid assets — such as real estate — as collateral.

“Simply put, a bond of this size is rarely, if ever, seen,” Giulietti wrote. “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 Trump Organization is privately held.

Giulietti wrote that it would be unattainable for a private company to obtain a bond to secure the $464 million total judgment unless it had around $1 billion in cash or cash equivalents to offer as collateral, while still being able to satisfy its other business obligations.

“While it is my understanding that the Trump Organization is in a strong liquidity position, it does not have $1 billion in cash or cash equivalents,” he wrote.

Trump’s attorneys also noted in the filing that bond issuers often will demand collateral totaling 120% of the judgment, which equates to over $557 million.

Those issuers are also likely to demand a two-year advance on a 2% annual bond premium, which would require the defendants to pay more than $18 million upfront, the lawyers wrote.

The defendants had previously offered to post a $100 million bond to prevent James from collecting on the judgment while Trump appealed Engoron’s verdict.

An appellate division judge rejected that proposal but allowed the defendants to continue doing business in New York and lifted Engoron’s three-year ban on Trump seeking loans in New York. That order is temporarily in effect before a full appeals court panel hears the motion for a stay.

Trump earlier this month obtained a $91.6 million bond from insurance company Chubb to secure a civil defamation judgment against him in favor of writer E. Jean Carroll as he appeals that verdict. According to Monday’s filing, Chubb was one of the companies that Trump contacted in trying to obtain the bond for the business fraud case.

Carroll had successfully sued Trump in federal court for defaming her after she accused him in 2019 of raping her in the mid-1990s in a Manhattan department store.

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