Trump has hours to cover $454 million judgment or risk property seizure


By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) –Donald Trump faces a Monday deadline to post a bond to cover a $454 million civil fraud judgment or face the risk of New York state seizing some of his marquee properties.

Trump, seeking to regain the presidency this year, must either pay the money out of his own pocket or post a bond while he appeals Justice Arthur Engoron‘s Feb. 16 judgment against him for manipulating his net worth and his family real estate company’s property values to dupe lenders and insurers.

On Monday morning, Trump wrote on social media that the number Engoron set was “fraudulent.”

“It should be ZERO, I DID NOTHING WRONG!,” he said.

The Trump campaign on Friday called for donations from “one million pro-Trump patriots,” saying that the “iconic Trump Tower” was among his properties at risk of seizure.

The case cuts to the core of his public image as a prosperous businessman. Trump rose to fame as a developer of flashy properties like Manhattan’s Trump Tower and often boasts of his financial success – even though his companies have at times struggled.

But Trump, the Republican candidate challenging Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 U.S. election, now faces a web of financial worries including campaign fundraising lagging behind his rival.

The judgment in the case was entered in Manhattan, where Trump properties such as Trump Tower or 40 Wall Street may be in the sights of New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who brought the civil case in 2022.

James also has notified Westchester County, just north of New York City, of the judgment, a step toward potentially seizing assets there such as a Trump golf course and a 60-room mansion and estate called Seven Springs.

Taking control of Trump’s properties would pose a host of legal and logistical challenges for the attorney general’s office. Placing liens on them to ensure they are not sold or transferred and going after Trump’s liquid assets would be more straightforward.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the case politically motivated. The first former U.S. president ever to face criminal charges, Trump has been indicted in four separate cases, pleading not guilty in each.

In one of those cases, a New York judge on Monday is set to hear arguments on Trump’s bid to postpone a mid-April start date over charges related to hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 U.S. election.

‘FIRE SALE PRICES’

In the civil fraud case, Trump’s lawyers have said 30 surety companies have rejected his requests to post a bond securing the judgment, and have asked that he be allowed to post $100 million instead. They have asked a mid-level state appeals court to delay enforcement of the judgment.

During a 2023 deposition by the attorney general’s office, Trump said his companies had more than $400 million in cash. In a social media post on Friday, he said he had almost $500 million in cash, but intended to use much of it on his campaign.

“I will be forced to mortgage or sell Great Assets, perhaps at Fire Sale prices,” Trump wrote on social media last week.

Trump came a step closer to a windfall on Friday after investors approved a $5.7 billion deal to list the company that owns his Truth Social platform on the stock market. Trump’s majority stake in the company, Trump Media & Technology Group, is worth about $3.3 billion.

But even if the deal gets completed this week, it is unclear if it would help Trump cover the judgment. That is because he previously agreed to terms preventing him from selling his shares for six months or borrowing against them.

Before the three-month, non-jury trial in Manhattan, Engoron found that 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.

This case is not the only one to drain Trump’s finances. Trump this month posted a $91.6 million bond to cover an $83.3 million defamation verdict for writer E. Jean Carroll while he appeals. She sued him after Trump called her a liar for accusing him of raping her decades ago. He has denied wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York;Additional reporting by Jack Queen in New York and Nathan Layne in Milton, ConnecticutEditing by Will Dunham and Noeleen Walder)



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