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Trump Vows to Pay Fraud Trial Bond Cut by 68% to $175 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump vowed to post a $175 million bond in New York’s civil fraud lawsuit after an appeals court slashed it by more than two thirds and handed him a crucial financial lifeline as state authorities were preparing to start seizing his assets.

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The decision Monday was delivered as Trump faced a deadline to either pay the full $454 million verdict or post a standard bond for 120% of the judgment to put it on hold while he appeals. That would have amounted to nearly $545 million dollars, more cash than Trump said he had on hand.

The former president, who is campaigning to return to the White House, said he’ll post the smaller bond within a 10-day deadline set by the court. The appeals court in Manhattan did not offer any explanation behind its decision.

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“I greatly respect the decision of the Appellate Division and I’ll post either $175 million in cash or bonds or security or whatever is necessary, very quickly within the 10 days and I thank the Appellate Division for acting quickly,” Trump told reporters in NY outside court.

The bond decision was handed down as Trump sat in a Manhattan courtroom in a separate criminal case accusing him of falsifying business records to conceal a hush-money payment to a porn star before the 2016 election. The judge in that case set a trial for April 15 after rejecting Trump’s claim that the case should be tossed out because some evidence had been handed over late by prosecutors.

The billionaire real estate mogul had sought to waive the bond entirely or post a smaller one of just $100 million, claiming he’d have to sell properties at a loss to raise cash after insurance companies that arrange them refused to take his real estate as collateral. Trump’s commitment to pay the bond means he’ll be able to push ahead with his appeal without the risk of New York Attorney General Letitia James seizing his assets seized for lack of payment.

James had said she was prepared to seize assets including Trump’s skyscrapers in Manhattan and golf courses to pay the judgment if he didn’t post a bond.

Trump held a press conference in the lobby of his 40 Wall Street skyscraper and reiterated how the ruling had spared him from being forced to sell assets and left more money on the table to spend on his campaign.

“But if I have to spend $500 million on the bond, I wouldn’t have that option,” Trump said. “I’d have to start selling things. I don’t have to sell anything because it’s a phenomenal company.”

The massive verdict was handed down in February by a state court judge who held Trump liable for inflating the value of his assets by billions of dollars a year to get better terms on loans from Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders. Trump denies wrongdoing and says he’s likely to get the verdict overturned on appeal.

The total damages in the civil fraud case are $464 million dollars, including about $10 million dollars in penalties against Trump’s sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. as well as the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.

“Donald Trump is still facing accountability for his staggering fraud,” a spokesperson for James’ office said. “The $464 million judgment – plus interest – against Donald Trump and the other defendants still stands.”

The former president said last week he has almost $500 million in cash on hand, though he said he’d spend a “substantial” amount of that on his campaign to return to the White House in the November election.

The ruling is a major setback for James, who had argued that Trump should be ordered to post a bond for the full amount because he couldn’t be trusted to pay what he owes if his appeal fails. Trump could still appeal the bond ruling to New York’s highest court to seek a further reduction.

The former president had asked to post a smaller bond or no bond at all to ease the financial pressure on him while he campaigns to return to the White House. But his legal woes remain. He’s also challenging an $83.3 million verdict in another civil trial he lost this year and faces four criminal prosecutions.

Before the two verdicts, Trump had a net worth of about $3.1 billion, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates, and since then he hasn’t said how much cash he has on hand. But his recent court filing said the Manhattan-based Trump Organization would be forced to hold a “fire sale” of properties to raise enough cash for a bond.

Trump, who is the presumptive Republican nominee for the November election, said in a March 18 filing that 30 insurance companies capable of providing large appeal bonds refused to accept his real estate as collateral, citing an industry standard to only accept cash or cash equivalents. His lawyers said he doesn’t have enough cash.

James responded in a March 20 letter saying that Trump had failed to provide evidence of why the companies wouldn’t accept his real estate as collateral.

--With assistance from Hadriana Lowenkron and Jordan Fabian.

(Updates with comment from Trump’s press conference.)

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