Who is Don Hankey, the LA billionaire who financed Donald Trump’s career bond?

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Who is Don Hankey, the LA billionaire who financed Donald Trump’s career bond?

Laurence Darmiento

April 3, 2024

When news broke that former President Donald Trump had managed to issue a $175 million bond to avoid an asset seizure while he appealed a judgment in New York, he said he lied about his wealth

to obtain favorable real estate loans

a surprising figure turned out to be his savior.

It was none other than Los Angeles billionaire Don Hankey,



hard money, hard money

lender that has made a fortune financing the sale of vehicles to subprime borrowers, but has expanded far beyond that sector into other businesses where there are certainly profits to be made.

Why does the name Don Hankey sound familiar?

One of his companies, Hankey Capital, several years ago provided loans totaling more than $100 million to developer Nile Niami to complete a Bel-Air mega-mansion called

The One ‘The One’.

The developer first put the 105,000-square-foot home on the market for $500 million, but it fell into bankruptcy and was auctioned two years ago to LA founder Richard Sahagian for just $141 million.

fast fashion fast fashion

retailer Fashion Nova. The case is still in bankruptcy proceedings, but Hankey said a lot about what his company owes



Did Hankey make his fortune in real estate?

No. Hankey’s wealth has its roots in Westlake Financial Services, one of the largest providers of subprime auto loans to borrowers with bad credit. The lender has a reputation for being aggressive

to follow

borrowers, who can call them if they are even a day late. In 2015,

Western lake

The subsidiary that provides personal loans backed by car titles


hit with fines and refunds totaling more than $48 million for using illegal tactics to collect loans, such as making false threats to file criminal charges. T

The companies promised to fix theirs

collection practices.

Hankey has said the goal is to prevent loans from going bad, not to seize vehicles, which is costly.


also owns North Hollywood Toyota

and has long diversified beyond making subprime vehicle loans. Westlake has made loans for elective surgeries. Other


Hankey Group companies include Midway Auto Group, which leases


exotic and other automobiles, and Knight Specialty Insurance Co., a Hankey insurer

who endorsed that



appeal bond. Forbes estimates his net worth at $7.4 billion.

Are there any previous connections between Hankey and Trump?

Hankey said he is an investor in Axos Bank, a San Diego institution that refinanced Trump Tower for $100 million in 2022. Hankey said


he didn’t know about the refinancing until afterward


and that


Selling the bond to Trump was a business decision, although he acknowledged that he is a Trump supporter. “I have voted for Democrats in the past and I will support people who are business-friendly,” he said.

How did he get involved in Trump’s bond deal?

Trump suffered a legal blow when a judge ruled in February that the former president and his


For years, they had exaggerated their wealth to get real estate loans on better terms and were forced to pay a financial penalty of $364 million, an amount that grew to more than $450 million with interest. Hankey said he heard how Trump’s legal team was struggling to post such a large bond and reached out a few days before it was reduced in size.

last month.

“We were on a conference call discussing a bond worth about $460 million, and news came along, and one of the people said, ‘We were just told the bond had been reduced to $175 million.’”



recalled, saying he was thanked, but the call ended discussions


How did this deal come about?

Hankey said something



four days ago

about obtaining a deposit for the smaller amount and he agreed to provide it. “They first came up with a list of $140 million

([investment] )


(owned by Trump and his companies)

and said the rest would be cash. We said the bonds were acceptable to us. They were quality institutional bonds

and the rest would be cash

. At the end of the day, when they financed, they financed it all with cash,” he said.

Hankey said there was more risk involved



$460 million $460 million

bonds, but this could possibly also have been achieved through a combination of cash, bonds and real estate as collateral. “I didn’t feel comfortable, but I would have liked to sit down and try to figure it out. There would be a little more risk on my end, so maybe there would be a little more prize involved,” he said.

Hankey Hankey

refused to reveal its price

$175 million $175 million

band, which is typical

measured as

a percentage of the principal amount, but said the margin on the bond “was very small” because “the dollar amount was large and I just don’t think there is any risk. Plus, we had collateral, so we gave him a good interest rate .”

How could Hankey get the deal done so quickly?

Hankey is typically considered a hard money lender


a steep interest rate and


collateral that can cover a loan if it goes bad. They are usually lenders of last resort or when a borrower needs money quickly. Hankey Capital, the entity that lent to Niami, stated this on its website


want to

borrow to borrow as much as

$300 million and can close a loan in just five days.

Hankey said the appeal bond agreement came together within a few days. “We had to get a lot of documents signed, but they came up with the money right away and we have liquidity, so it was just a matter of getting the paperwork in order,” he said.

Has Hankey ever made such a loan before?

Hankey said he hasn’t done that before


a professional bond, but his insurance business does


niche bonds

search for if

for mining companies that must ensure that they perform in an environmentally friendly manner

complaint-mitigating activities

after mining activity ceases.

What happens if Donald Trump loses his appeal?

Hankey said that

if Trump cannot pay the judgment

the court will redeem the bond and his company will have “a day or two” to come up with the money.


sitting in a blocked account at a large real estate agency. ‘The collateral is cash. There shouldn’t be any risk, but with these things you never know,” he said.

Did he talk to Trump about the bond deal?

Hankey said he has never spoken to the former president, but has spoken to his son



,this Tuesday

morning. “He called and thanked us,” Hankey said. The bond also puts on hold about $10 million in fines against Eric Trump and his brother Donald Trump Jr., as well as former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who are also defendants, according to the Associated Press.


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