Billionaire Don Hankey provided Trump’s $175 million bonus | Trending Viral hub

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Providing Donald Trump’s $175 million appeal bond when other insurers would not is business as usual for the California financier. don hankey. As president of the Los Angeles-based Hankey Group of Companies, which includes an insurer, a subprime auto lender and a commercial real estate investment firm, Hankey has made a fortune lending to borrowers other financial firms avoid.

Hankey’s help to Trump has put the little-known billionaire in the spotlight. But in recent years, several of his companies’ operations have attracted the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the California Department of Insurance. Since 2015, regulators have taken action against Hankey’s companies four times, public records show.

In 2017, for example, the Department of Justice filed a complaint in federal court in California against Westlake Financial, Hankey’s large subprime auto lender. With a network of 50,000 auto dealerships and $3 billion in assets under management, Westlake Financial calls itself “The Yes! Yeah! Lender.”

Westlake and its subsidiary Wilshire Commercial Capital, the Justice Department complaint alleges, illegally repossessed at least 70 vehicles owned by military service members protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The companies paid $761,000 to settle the allegations.

Five years later, the Justice Department returned with another complaint against Westlake, alleging that it had failed to provide service members with the interest rate benefits to which they were entitled under the law. The company paid $225,000 to resolve that matter.

“Service members make enormous sacrifices, and we have a responsibility to protect their rights and ensure they have full access to important benefits guaranteed by law,” said Martín Estrada, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, at the time of the settlement. .

Hankey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The self-made Hankey is worth $7.4 billion, according to Forbes, and its companies control $18 billion in assets and employ more than 3,000 employees, the company’s website says. Its seven financial entities include Westlake and Knight Insurance Group, whose unit provided the appeal bond to Trump, a commercial real estate investment firm and provider of fleet financing for car rental companies. He is also a large shareholder in Axos Financial, the San Diego company whose bank refinanced some Trump loans in 2022 when other banks objected.

The appeal bond provided to Trump by Hankey’s Knight Specialty Insurance prevents the New York Attorney General from collecting the $464 million judgment she won against Trump and his co-defendants in a civil fraud case while Trump appeals it. The judge overseeing the matter found that the defendants had committed “persistent” fraud over several years.

Some Hankey customers are unhappy with his company’s practices, according to consumer complaints filed against Westlake with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Over the past year, records compiled by the agency show a nearly daily stream of customer allegations against Westlake, ranging from improperly repossessed vehicles, charges for a loan the customer did not sign up for, and failure to provide loan balances and payment histories. Accurate payments to credit reporting agencies. Such inaccuracies can cripple consumers’ ability to obtain other loans, lease residences, or even obtain jobs.

Customers who fall behind on their auto loans also say Westlake employees call them repeatedly, complaint records show. “Even when I have a payment agreement, they will still call up to 6 times a day, 7 days a week,” one Florida borrower wrote last month.

The Hankey companies have also been subject to regulatory actions by the CFPB and the California Department of Insurance. According to a 2015 consent decree filed by the CFPB against Westlake and its affiliate Wilshire, the CFPB found that Westlake and Wilshire pressured borrowers using illegal debt collection practices. About 176,000 customers were affected, according to the consent order.

According to the CFPB, Westlake and Wilshire changed the terms of the loans without informing the borrowers, accruing additional interest on the loans. The companies also allegedly deceived customers by manipulating caller IDs and posing as employees calling from flower shops or pizzerias to trick borrowers into revealing their location or that of their vehicles for recovery purposes. In other cases, Westlake collection agents led borrowers to believe that their vehicles would be released if they paid a certain sum, usually less than the full amount owed. Once those payments were made, Westlake failed to deliver the vehicles, the CFPB found.

Westlake and Wilshire neither admitted nor denied the findings, but paid $44 million to the clients and a $4.25 million fine.

KnightBrook Insurance, another Hankey company, was aforementioned by the California Department of Insurance in 2015 for a series of violations in the way it handled customer claims. Over a one-year period, the department reviewed 127 auto protection and warranty claims handled by KnightBrook and found 45 violations of the state insurance code.

Those alleged violations included failing to include fees in the total loss settlements customers received, failing to “diligently conduct and carry out a thorough, fair and objective investigation of a claim”; non-payment of salvage certificate fees; and failure to pay reasonable towing charges.

According to the report, KnightBrook agreed with the state’s findings and said it “intends to implement corrective actions in jurisdictions where appropriate.”

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