Trump says he could have to sell assets to cover $454 million fraud judgment

By Thomson Reuters Mar 19, 2024 | 11:33 AM

By Jack Queen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump on Tuesday said on social media that he may be forced to mortgage or sell parts of his real estate business holdings at “fire sale prices” to secure a bond to cover a $454 million civil fraud judgment in New York.

The posts by the Republican challenger to Democratic President Joe Biden came a day after his lawyers told the court that 30 surety companies had rejected his efforts to secure a bond.

“Nobody has ever heard of anything like this before,” the former U.S. president said in a series of posts on his Truth Social platform. “I would be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices.”

Trump, who was found liable in February for inflating his property values to dupe lenders and insurers, must post a bond or pay out of his own pocket by Monday. If not, the state’s attorney general could begin seeking to seize his properties.

Trump’s campaign fundraising has been falling behind Biden’s in recent months, and he continues having to balance raising money for both his campaign and his legal expenses, which are likely to rise as he faces four upcoming criminal trials.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in all the criminal and civil cases he faces. He has repeatedly described the New York civil case as a political vendetta by Democratic New York state Attorney General Letitia James.

Trump’s lawyers and James’ office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a court filing on Monday, Trump’s lawyers urged a mid-level state appeals court to delay enforcement of the judgment, arguing the amount was excessive. It was unclear when the court, known as the Appellate Division, would rule.

The lawyers asked that Trump instead be allowed to post a $100 million bond while he appeals the judgment, handed down by Justice Arthur Engoron in Manhattan.

Before a three-month, non-jury trial began in October, Engoron found Trump had engaged in fraud by overvaluing properties including his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, his penthouse apartment in Manhattan’s Trump Tower, and various office buildings and golf courses.

The trial mostly concerned how much Trump should pay in penalties. In addition to the monetary fines, Engoron barred Trump from running a business in New York or seeking a loan from a bank chartered in the state for three years.

Trump this month posted a $91.6 million bond to cover an $83.3 million defamation verdict for the writer E. Jean Carroll while he appeals, in a case that arose from his branding her a liar after she accused him of raping her decades ago. He has denied wrongdoing.

He has also pleaded not guilty in four criminal cases stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden, his handling of classified documents after leaving office in 2021, and hush money paid before his 2016 election win to a porn star who said she had a sexual encounter with him.

(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Daniel Wallis)