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Meet Don Hankey, the billionaire who gave Donald Trump $175 million for bond payment

Former President Donald Trump, along with co-defendants, secured a $175 million bond after a New York court found them guilty of misrepresenting property values in a civil fraud case. Don Hankey, a billionaire and head of Knight Speciality Insurance, underwrote the bond

Meet Don Hankey, the billionaire who gave Donald Trump 175 million dollars for bond payment
First Published Apr 3, 2024, 9:07 AM IST

Former United States President Donald Trump, along with his co-defendants, has procured a substantial $175 million bond following a court ruling that found them guilty of misrepresenting property values over an extended period in New York's civil fraud case. The bond, critical for securing Trump's appellate process, is underwritten by an insurance company led by billionaire Don Hankey.

Who is Don Hankey?

Hankey, whose net worth stands at $7.4 billion, established Knight Speciality Insurance, which provided cash and bonds as collateral for Trump's bond. Hankey emphasized that such actions were customary for his company.

From Car Salesman to Mogul

Don Hankey, aged 80, began his career in the auto industry when his father acquired a stake in a Ford dealership in Los Angeles in 1958. Hankey initially started as a car washer but later transitioned into a salesman role. After his father's passing and subsequent loss of their dealership stake, Hankey repurchased the dealership with a $250,000 loan after graduating from the University of Southern California with a finance degree.

Venturing into Subprime Auto Loans

Hankey's foray into subprime auto loans was pivotal. He recognized an untapped market of subprime borrowers often rejected by other dealerships. Hankey's dealership provided loans directly, diverging from the conventional practice of relying on banks for financing auto purchases. Despite the challenges, Hankey's innovative approach proved successful.

Expansion into Financial Services

Realizing the demand for subprime auto loans beyond Los Angeles, Hankey founded Westlake Financial Services, which now collaborates with over 30,000 car dealerships across the US. Westlake is part of the Hankey Group, which oversees various financial services companies, including Knight Insurance Group, the entity that facilitated Trump's bond.

Hankey's Political Stand

While Hankey disclosed voting for Trump in the past, he clarified that his decision to extend the bond was purely business-oriented and not influenced by political affiliations. His involvement in a deal to refinance Trump Tower in 2022, as reported by Bloomberg, was deemed unrelated to his political leanings.

Insight into Appeal Bonds

Appeal bonds serve to freeze the enforcement of a judgment during the appeal process. Insurers typically demand collateral and charge fees ranging from 1% to 2% of the bond amount. Trump's legal team remains optimistic about overturning the verdict on appeal, banking on the substantial bond's security.

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