Trump’s Bond Benefactor Earned Billions From Subprime Car Loans

The California billionaire Don Hankey made his fortune by offering high-interest auto loans to buyers with bad credit. This week, he signed up a new client in need of urgent help: Donald J. Trump.

A company operated by Mr. Hankey came to the former president’s aid on Monday and provided a $175 million bond in Mr. Trump’s New York civil fraud case, helping him avoid financial disaster. It was the first time one of his companies had done such a deal.

Mr. Hankey earned a reputation as a provider of risky and lucrative loans, specifically collateral-based debt that can be arranged more quickly than conventional loans and requires borrowers to pledge valuable assets. His companies are known for relentlessly calling people who miss payments by a day, and repossessing vehicles from delinquent borrowers, according to news accounts and regulators.

Now, Mr. Hankey’s highest-profile client is running again for the White House and, if elected, could exert influence over federal regulation of his high-interest loan industry.

Mr. Hankey, 80, is in the public eye thanks to a New York judge’s decision in February that Mr. Trump was liable for conspiring to manipulate his net worth. The judge imposed a $454 million judgment, a monumental penalty that jeopardized his business empire and raised the possibility that the state could seize some of Mr. Trump’s buildings.

The former president appealed the judgment, and in the meantime a panel of five appellate court judges decided last week that Mr. Trump could post a far lower bond, $175 million.

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