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Bail deadline expires: Why is Trump threatening forfeiture?

Bail deadline expires: Why is Trump threatening forfeiture?


As of: March 24, 2024 at 8:27 p.m

Due to a fraud case, Donald Trump must raise nearly half a billion dollars for bail by Monday. What options are available to the former US president and what will happen if he cannot meet the deadline?

Why should Trump pay bail?

Not only is Trump currently making headlines as the likely Republican presidential nominee in the United States, but there are also a number of ongoing lawsuits against him. In addition to four criminal lawsuits, the main proceedings of which have not yet begun, there are also civil proceedings against Trump.

In a civil trial in New York, Donald Trump and his sons Donald Jr. and Eric were found guilty of artificially inflating the assets of their real estate group over the years in order to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurance companies.

Trump was therefore fined about $355 million in the fraud case in February. With interest, the total now stands at more than $450 million. His children were also ordered to pay $4 million plus interest. The total penalties amount to about 464 million dollars – about 427 million euros. Trump and his children were also banned from running companies in New York State for three years.

The former US president has appealed the ruling. For this reason, the American judiciary is now demanding that he provide bail equal to the amount of the fine if his appeal fails. The deadline by which Trump must deposit funds with the judiciary or provide appropriate guarantees ends on March 25.

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Can Trump raise money?

In February, Trump offered to pay bail of only $100 million. However, this offer was rejected by the appeal judge. In mid-March, his lawyers stated that their client was unable to pay the required bail amount. This appears from the published court document. Therefore, paying the deposit is “practically impossible.”

Trump and his sons contacted 30 insurance companies, among others, as part of their unsuccessful search for guarantees. However, lawyers said insurance companies have rules that prevent them from accepting real estate as collateral. Also, many insurance companies did not provide guarantees for more than $100 million.

Forbes magazine estimates Trump's wealth at $2.6 billion. However, much of it is in real estate and is therefore not directly available to Trump. About a year ago, Trump stated that he had $400 million in liquid assets. However, these resources – if Trump has them – must already have been diminished by another libel lawsuit involving writer Jean Carroll. In this case, Trump already had to pay $91.6 million bail. Recently, Trump once again claimed that he had a large sum of money in cash – nearly $500 million, most of which he planned to use on the campaign trail.

What happens if Trump doesn't meet the deadline?

It is initially possible that New York Attorney General Letitia James will extend Trump's bail deadline. If this does not happen, the New York judiciary may freeze Trump's bank accounts. It could also seize parts of Trump's properties. For the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who always praises himself as a brilliant businessman, such legal action would not only be a major blow to his finances, but also to his image.

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According to Reuters news agency, the Attorney General's Office has already taken the first steps to implement a possible seizure in Westchester County, New York. Trump owns a golf course there – Trump National Golf Course Westchester – and the Seven Springs property. However, the prosecutor's action is an ordinary preparation – this does not necessarily lead to seizure. However, it shows that the District Attorney's Office is at least considering forfeiture.

What options are available to Trump?

Trump's first option is to appeal to the New York State Supreme Court to get an extension to the deadline. Apparently in order to raise the missing funds, Trump's campaign team has already called on his supporters for donations and warned that he may lose his New York properties as a result of these actions. However, it is not clear whether the donations will be enough to pay the deposit.

Trump may also try to obtain bank loans. Or he could sell the property or other assets and use the proceeds to pay the deposit. Which is an option that he clearly doesn't like. He wrote on the “Truth Social” platform, which he co-founded: “I will have to obtain real estate loans or sell large assets, perhaps at low prices, and if I win the appeal, these assets will disappear. Does this make sense?”

Another possibility is for Trump to declare bankruptcy. However, this may harm his image, especially in light of the upcoming election campaign in the United States. In addition, the New York Attorney General's Office is not prohibited from continuing to obtain the requested funds.

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(Source: Agence France-Presse, German Press Agency, Reuters)