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Donald Trump's assets under theat as he 'can't find $557m bond', his lawyers say

Donald Trump cannot find the $557m (£438m) bond he needs to pause enforcement of a civil fraud trial judgement against him because it is too much money, his lawyers have said.

The former president was fined $454m (£356m) after being found guilty of scheming for years to deceive banks and insurers by inflating his wealth on financial statements used to secure loans and make deals.

If he is unable to find the bond amount, his assets could be seized instead, starting as soon as next week.

Last month, in a New York state appeals court, Judge Arthur Engoron ruled he must post a bond covering the full amount to hold up enforcement of the judgment, set to start on 25 March.

But Mr Trump's lawyers said obtaining a bond for such a large sum "is not possible under the circumstances presented" as most bonding companies simply will not offer the huge amount required.

With interest, Mr Trump owes almost $457m (£359m), but, in all, he and his co-defendants including his company and top executives, such as his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr, owe $467m (£367m).

Mr Trump, who has secured the Republican nomination for this year's general election, has frequently claimed to be worth billions of dollars and last year said he had $400m in cash, in addition to properties and other investments.

The real estate tycoon, who is fighting four criminal prosecutions as he prepares to take on President Joe Biden for the White House in November, asked if the court would accept a bond of $100m (£78m) to stay the judgement, but his proposal was rejected.

A stay is a legal mechanism pausing collection during an appeal.

Mr Trump's team spent "countless hours negotiating with one of the largest insurance companies in the world", they wrote, but to no avail.

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Their filing quoted Gary Giulietti, a real estate broker, who wrote that few firms would consider the proposal.

He wrote: "A bond of this size is rarely, if ever, seen".

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, has said that she will seek to seize some of Mr Trump's assets if he is unable to pay the judgment.

Mr Trump would receive an automatic stay if he were to put up money, assets or an appeal bond covering what he owes. In January, a jury ordered Mr Trump to pay $83m (£65m) to writer E Jean Carroll for defaming her.