Why were Trump’s bond documents rejected – and has this impacted his civil fraud appeal?

Missing financial information meant that some documents were ‘returned for correction’ to Donald Trump and his legal team

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 04 April 2024 19:10 BST
Related: Fox News contributor says New York legal system’s integrity ‘at stake’ while discussing Trump case

Documents for Donald Trump’s $175m bond in his New York civil fraud case were rejected and “returned for correction” to the former president due to missing financial information.

A docket appeared on the New York County Supreme Court website on Wednesday, detailing that a “Bond/Undertaking” had been “returned for correction”.

The court said that the reason for the rejection was that some of the documentation filed on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate failed to include a current financial statement, power of attorney or list an attorney-in-fact.

The blunder was first spotted by New York attorney Jeffrey K Levine, who posted a screenshot of the court’s explanation for the rejection, which read: “The court has returned the documents listed below for the following reasons: Please include a current financial statement and Power of Attorney.

“Additionally, please list the name of the Attorney-in-Fact under the signature line on the Undertaking. Please use the ‘Refile Document’ link for Doc. No. 1707 to resubmit the corrected filing. Thank you and have a great day.”

Mr Levine added a comment of his own: “175 million reasons why 1 mistake should not have been made, much less 3!”

On Thursday, Mr Trump resubmitted the documents with the proper information in order for his bond to be accepted.

While there was speculation that it would include some of the former president’s financial records, the missing information actually related to Knight Speciality Insurance Co, which is underwriting the bond, as first noted by MSNBC legal correspondent Lisa Rubin.

The former president posted his $175m bond this week after he was handed an extraordinary lifeline by a New York appeals court, enabling him to pay only a portion of the total $464m judgment against him as bond and granting him a 10-day extension to the original deadline in which to do it.

That came after Judge Arthur Engoron concluded a three-month trial on 16 February by ruling that Mr Trump was liable for a decade-long scheme that saw the value of Trump Organization assets routinely inflated in order to obtain favourable loans from banks and insurers. The former president was ordered to pay $354m in fines and a further $110m plus in interest within 30 days.

As the interest ticked ever-upwards at 9 per cent or $120,000 a day, the exact total he owed by the time the original deadline day of 25 March arrived was closer to $468.1m, with Mr Trump’s lawyers complaining in the interim that he had been unable to find a surety company willing to stump up the cash – after approaching more than 30 – given the sheer scale of the money involved.

After the panel of New York Appellate Division judges intervened to offer the candidate a major concession, he was finally able to raise the money for his bond with the help of California’s Knight Specialty Insurance Company.

The company’s owner Don Hankey is a prolific Republican donor whose Axos Bank has refinanced several property loans for Mr Trump in recent years.

What the $175m bond really buys the candidate is time – several months in fact, as his appeal against the fraud judgement will not take place until September at the earliest, when the court’s autumn term commences.

That, however, does bring the matter uncomfortably close to Election Day on 5 November – a period when many of the candidate’s other legal entanglements likewise threaten to come to a head.

In addition to running for the presidency, Mr Trump is also battling four criminal cases in Washington DC, New York, Georgia and Florida, chewing up an estimated $230,000 per day in legal expenses and struggling to fund time to accommodate both court dates and campaign commitments, a problem that could become ever-more convoluted as the year progresses.

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