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April 11, 2024 3 min read

Former President Donald J. Trump had to pay a reduced bond of $175 million as part of a civil fraud case in New York, and although the businessman has a well-documented net worth, a different billionaire fronted the bill.

California billionaire Don Hankey, a self-proclaimed Trump supporter who generated a fortune providing subprime auto loans (high-interest auto loans offered to car buyers with poor credit), is the individual who backed the former president and took care of the bond on Monday, the Washington Post reported.

Without Hankey's help, Trump would have had to spend his money to pay the bond or authorities would have begun seizing his properties, according to the Washington Post. Bankruptcy was possibly on the table for Trump, who faced more than $450 million in penalties from two civil cases, with only weeks to find the cash, the outlet said.

USA TODAY contacted Hankey and several of his companies but did not receive an immediate response.

Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on April 2, 2024.

Trump commented on the bond on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded in October 2021.

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"I had to pay New York State in order to appeal a corrupt decision by a biased, crooked and highly overturned judge," Trump wrote in the social post. "It’s supposed to be the other way around - you appeal before you pay. Is a crooked New York Judge allowed to make you pay for the “privilege” of appealing a wrongful & corrupt decision??? NOT IN AMERICA!!!"

Who is Don Hankey?

Forbes calculated Hankey's net worth at $7.4 billion, but the "little-known king of subprime car loans" has over $22.5 billion in assets, including Hankey Group, his "Los Angeles-based auto services empire."

Don Hankey

"His Westlake Financial Services works with more than 30,000 car dealerships in all 50 states to provide car loans to people with bad, or no, credit," according to Forbes. "The Hankey Group also includes a real estate firm and a Toyota dealership, plus auto insurance, rental car and dealer software companies."

When Hankey was a teenager he washed and polished cars as a lot boy before becoming an auto salesman at his dad's Los Angeles Ford dealership, Forbes reported. By 1972, he bought control of his father's dealership and began "extending loans to people with poor credit," the outlet said.

"The business took off and is now his biggest asset," according to Forbes.

Why did Don Hankey pay Donald Trump's $175 million bond?

Although Hankey "promptly agreed" to pay the bond using one of his companies, a subsidiary of Knight Insurance, Trump was charged a "modest fee," the billionaire told the Washington Post. He declined to disclose the amount but said his actions were a "good business deal, not a political statement," according to the outlet.

“I’m chairman of the board of several companies, and we just carry on our business and we try to stay away from political issues or taking sides,” Hankey said. "I will support him in the future, but I wouldn’t consider myself a major supporter.”

Hankey, 80, told the Washington Post the majority of his contributions have gone to Republicans, but he's also made donations to Democrats.

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Hankey empathized with Donald Trump's legal defense

Trump's legal team's defense in the New York civil case also prompted Hankey to pay the former president's bond, the Washington Post reported. Trump was convicted of fraud by overvaluing his assets and getting loans at significantly low rates, which his defense argued was common practice and that the loans were repaid fully, the outlet said.

"Quite often, when credit statements or financial statements are submitted to (Westlake Financial Services), the values are exaggerated on some of the assets," Hankey said. "… I would say it probably happens on 75 percent of our applications.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ruled in February that Trump, a number of his companies, his two eldest sons and former executives were civilly liable for fraud by lying about the real value of the former president's assets to obtain better rates.

Source: Who is Don Hankey? What to know about billionaire who paid Donald Trump's $175 million bond - USA TODAY.

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