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News Press Releases Donald Trump Wednesday, Apr 3 2024

ICYMI: Trump Bond Underwriter Was Sued By Trump’s DOJ

Apr 03, 2024

The Daily Beast just published exclusive reporting that the billionaire financier Don Hankey, who underwrote Donald Trump’s $175 million bond, is the owner of a company once sued by Trump’s own Department of Justice for illegally repossessing the cars of U.S. servicemembers.

Much was made about the internal workings of Don Hankey’s effort to save Trump from missing his bond deadline and preventing the state of New York from seizing his assets to satisfy his massive $454 million judgment. Hankey’s motivation for underwriting the bond was attributed to a suggestion from his wife, but now we can guess Hankey’s financial motivations for issuing a down payment in case Trump returns to the White House in November.

Learn more about the bombshell exclusive from The Daily Beast:

  • When billionaire financier Don Hankey underwrote Donald Trump’s $175 million bond this week, it wasn’t the first time that Trump had taken money out of his pocket—nine months into Trump’s first term in office, his Justice Department sued Hankey’s financial company for unlawful lending practices.
  • Hankey’s company—Westlake Services—had systematically violated the rights of military employees over a period of several years, illegally repossessing dozens of cars in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
  • Westlake immediately settled, agreeing to pay $700,000 in damages to the affected servicemembers, along with a roughly $61,000 fine to the federal government.
  • While the government was monitoring Westlake’s compliance, new SCRA violations were discovered, forcing the firm to pay another $225,000 to settle the allegation in 2022.
  • Hankey, whose estimated $7.4 billion net worth outstrips Trump’s, made his fortune in the repo world, targeting low-income customers with high-interest auto loans.
  • Two years before the DOJ sued Westlake and its wholly-owned subsidiary Wilshire under the SCRA, those same two entities were nailed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “illegal debt collection tactics,” resulting in more than $44 million in restitution payouts and a civil fine of $4.25 million.
  • The Trump administration alleged that Westlake had unlawfully seized at least 70 cars from servicemembers, in violation of protections under the SCRA.
  • According to prosecutors, over a period of five years, Hankey’s firms had repossessed dozens of vehicles belonging to military employees without obtaining the necessary court orders required under the law. Four of the seizures took place while members were either on active duty or within one year of their departure.
  • “Westlake and Wilshire specifically target servicemembers, including junior enlisted servicemembers, as customers for their subprime and near-subprime loan products,” prosecutors said. The complaint noted that the unlawful repossessions were “intentional, willful, and taken in disregard” for the members’ rights, citing the fact that Hankey’s firms had followed the proper procedures when it was in their interest—like when it came to approving servicemember requests for interest rate reductions.
  • Almost five years to the day after the first complaint, the DOJ announced they had reached a second, amended settlement agreement with the same entities, regarding additional violations uncovered while the feds were monitoring the firms’ compliance with the SCRA. Those infractions involved failing to properly provide interest rate benefits to qualified servicemembers and unlawfully delaying the approval of benefit requests. The additional damages and fines brought the total financial penalties to about $1 million.
  • Those fines, however, pale in comparison to Hankey’s recent backing for Trump. That support actually started in 2022, when online lender Axos Bank—where Hankey is the top institutional shareholder—floated $225 million to buoy the Trump Organization’s finances after customers and other banks cut ties in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
  • This week, however, Hankey underwrote the $175 million bond that Trump needed to post in order to pursue an appeal of a $450 million civil judgment against him, which a New York judge imposed last month after finding Trump guilty of fraudulently misrepresenting his wealth for years to secure favorable terms on loans.
  • Hankey has given major donations to Trump opponents in the past including maximum contributions to two of Trump’s primary rivals in 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, along with a total $5,300 in 2014 and 2015 to Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, in Hankey’s California district.
  • Federal Election Commission records show that Hankey’s wife and his son—Nowcom president Don Rufus Hankey—are both Trump donors. Debbi Hankey contributed a few hundred dollars to Trump’s failed 2020 re-election bid, and in 2016 Don Rufus Hankey gave $40,400 to a joint fundraising effort supporting Trump and the Republican Party, FEC records show.

Read The Daily Beast’s entire exclusive here.

Published: Apr 3, 2024 | Last Modified: Apr 4, 2024

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