Business

Firm that underwrote Trump’s $175M bond known for high-interest loans to car buyers with bad credit history

The company that underwrote Donald Trump’s $175 million appeal bond in New York state’s civil fraud suit is known for offering subprime auto loans — and is owned by a billionaire supporter of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Don Hankey — the California-based businessman who made his $1.6 billion fortune from lending money to auto buyers with flawed credit history, per Forbes — came to Trump’s rescue on Monday, three days before a court-imposed deadline.

The multimillion-dollar bond puts a $454 million judgment on hold while Trump appeals a ruling from Justice Arthur Engoron saying he lied for years about his wealth to prop up his real estate empire — and barred the former president, his two eldest sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. and other top Trump Organization execs from heading any company in the Big Apple for two and three years, variously.

Former US President Donald Trump, in a suit and tie, arriving at 40 Wall Street in New York City for a court hearing regarding his civil fraud case.
Knight Specialty Insurance Company — known for offering subprime auto loans — underwrote Donald Trump’s $175 million appeal bond in New York state’s civil fraud suit on Monday, three days before a court-imposed deadline. AFP via Getty Images

Hankey — who told Forbes that both cash and investment-grade bonds were used as collateral for Trump’s appellate bond — is chairman and chief executive of Knight Specialty Insurance Company.

Hankey saidhis company had reached out to Trump to initiate the deal, just days before an appeals court slashed the amount he would have to pay while his appeal was heard, according to Forbes.

“This is what we do at Knight Insurance,” Hankey said, and confirmed he had supported Trump’s political campaigns in the past, Forbes reported.

“I’d never met Donald Trump. I’d never talked to him on the phone. I heard that he needed a loan or a bond, and this is what we do. So, we reached out, and he responded.”

Hankey said the deal came together within a few days, according to Forbes.

It wasn’t the first time Hankey was tied up in a business deal with the 45th president of the United States without meeting the 77-year-old businessman-turned-politician. In 2022, Hankey was the largest individual owner of Axos Financial when that lender similarly bailed Trump out of trouble by refinancing his mortgages at Trump Tower in Miami, according to Forbes.

Don Hankey, a California-based billionaire and owner of Knight Insurance, wearing a blue shirt and tie, known for underwriting Trump's $175M bond
Knight Insurance is owned by California-based billionaire Don Hankey, who has previously supported Trump’s political campaigns. Hankey Group

Axos had also made at least two loans backed by at least two properties owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, when he served as the CEO.

Hankey’s latest attempt at helping Trump has saved the latter’s assets, including his prized NYC property at 40 Wall St., from New York Attorney General Letitia James’ attempt at seizing them — which she vowed to do without hesitation if he couldn’t cough up the judgment or bond.

Trump’s team has claimed it couldn’t find a backer after approaching 30 surety firms. And Trump insisted he didn’t want to sell any of his buildings at “fire sale” prices just to cover the funds.