Palm Beach broker who penned letter calling it a ‘practical impossibility’ for Trump to secure bond for $454m judgement is a ‘friend’ and Mar-a-Lago member who met him on the golf course and testified in his fraud trial

By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor

18:43 20 Mar 2024, updated 20:12 20 Mar 2024

  • Gary Giulietti is Mar-a-Lago member who said Trump can’t get a bond
  • He met Trump on a golf course and became broker for his company
  • Attested getting bond is ‘practical impossibility’; AG Letitia James could seize Trump properties as soon as Monday 

You’re a former president on the hook for nearly half a billion dollars after a court judgement against you. 

Where do you turn to find an institution willing to post a potentially risky bond pending appeal?

If you’re Donald Trump, that person is a longtime Palm Beach friend and Mar-a-Lago member you first encountered on a golf course in the 1990s.

With Trump’s real estate empire on the line, lawyers for Trump submitted a six-page letter Monday from Gary Giulietti, president of the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage firm, vouching for the president’s difficulty finding a single firm willing to back him after reaching out to 30 of them. 

Broker Gary Giulietti, president of the world’s largest privately held insurance brokerage firm, scoured markets in search of a company that would issue a bond for Donald Trump, who faces a Monday deadline to pay a $454 million legal judgement against him

In a letter of attestation dated March 15, Giulietti cited his 50 years in the industry and described efforts to obtain bond for Trump and his companies, calling it a ‘practical impossibility’ to get a surety bond, in part due to companies’ refusal to take Trump’s real estate assets as collateral.

What the Trump attorneys didn’t mention was that Giulietti has been a member of both Mar-a-Lago – where Trump keeps his home while stewing about what he calls a ridiculously lowball valuation of its worth in his fraud trial – as well as his Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach, with a relationship that spans from personal to business. 

He has also hosted a charity event at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey and posted about it online.

Giulietti testified as an expert witness on behalf of Trump’s company in the fraud trial, and has been quoted praising Trump’s negotiating skills, saying he’ll ‘fight like a dog’, while also celebrating his diversity outreach to Hispanics and other groups.

Giulietti, who signed the letter from Palm Beach Gardens, where he maintains a home not far from Trump’s, testified about his ‘personal relationship’ with Trump last year, while Trump’s team was fighting charges of inflated property valuations and fraud.

‘How do you know him?’ a prosecutor asked during the the trial. ‘Golf,’ was Giulietti’s initial one-word response. 

‘You met him on the golf course?’ an attorney followed up. ‘Yes.’ Asked to describe the personal relationship, he responded: ‘Play golf with him occasionally; have lunch with him occasionally. Belong to a bunch of his clubs, so.’

Some time in 2017 and 2018, he also developed a business relationship, helping solve an undisclosed problem for the then-president and then being appointed a broker for him in 2021 after Trump left the White House. 

It put him to work for a high-profile client after helping arrange surety for such mammoth clients as Boston’s Big Dig and the Port Authority of New York. 

Giulietti posted video of Trump at his Bedminister golf club, where he helped organize a charity golf event
The event raised funds for wounded warriors. Giulietti is a member of Mar-a-Lago and Trump National golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida
Giulietti credited Trump’s negotiating skills and hiring practices, while writing a letter Trump’s lawyers cited while filing an appeal and facing a massive court judgement

Giulietti testified that the Trump Organization was ‘quite a large diverse amazing organization,’ while saying the burden was on insurers to do their due diligence when engaging with the company, in a case where the Trump and his companies were charged with insurance fraud. 

At one point he revealed that he had recently helped issue seven bonds for Trump through Zurich Insurance Group.

‘Do you understand from the Attorney General’s complaint that they allege that the Trump Organization defrauded Zurich insurance, generally?’ he got asked. 

‘I – not really,’ he responded. 

Both Giulietti and his son, David Giulietti, work on the Trump Organization account, which is itself a family affair, with sons Don Jr. and Eric Trump holding executive roles and being named in the suit and sanctioned by Judge Arthur Engoron. He said a team at Lockton of about 100 people worldwide handled the account. 

He wasn’t paid to testify, but he said he has an equity share in the business as a partner of his firm, and gets a percentage of the business that he does based on his clients. Kansas City-based Lockton gets a commission of 10-15 per cent when he places an insurance policy for the Trump Organization, he said.

Prosecutors tried to push him on some of his own language, agreeing that it was his opinion that Zurich didn’t do any ‘real financial analysis’ and used ‘air balls and witchcraft’ in the arrangements with Trump entities.

‘Yeah, true,’ he said. But prosecutors argued the firm would have no way to conduct property valuations other than asking Trump for them.

‘They could’ve. They had to choose to,’ he said. Later, he added, ‘They should have asked if they wanted it.’ 

Giulietti studied business at St. Michael’s College, as ‘been to’ the Harvard Business School (‘I don’t know that you’d call them degrees’), started his career at American Mutual in Connecticut, before spending two decades at Willis and then becoming a founder of Lockton. 

Giulietti didn’t respond to emails and a phone call requesting comment. 

He also vouched for Trump in an interview while the reality TV star and real estate developer was seeking the White House. ‘I was sort of a deal guy my whole life,’ he said.

He told back in 2016 that Trump was ‘fairer than hell.’

‘He wants the best for his properties, he wants a competitive price. But he treats everyone with respect. Whenever he has to honor anything, he does. Even if he disagrees, he will compromise,’ he said.

‘He’ll fight you like a dog when he’s negotiating, but when you make a deal, he’ll find a way to make you his friend to work with you.’

New York AG Letitia James has already threatened to seize assets if Trump didn’t post bond

He even talked up Trump on the diversity front, at a time when he was taking heat for saying during his campaign launch Mexico was sending ‘rapists’ to the U.S. 

‘He hires and promotes every ethnic group in the world. If you look at his clubs, Hispanics are the ones largely running them, and they love Donald Trump,’ he said.  

Giulietti hosted a celebrity golf tournament benefitting wounded warriors at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey club, posting pictures from from the event as well as video of Trump at the event. 

Trump’s lawyers relied on Giulietti’s letter to ask an appeals court to stay the requirement post the $46 million bond.

‘Based on my more than 50 years in the insurance industry as well as my actual experience over the past several weeks during which I have been in contact with some of the largest insurance carriers in the world in an effort to try and obtain a bond for defendants, it is my opinion that obtaining an appeal bond for $464 billion is not possible under the circumstances presented,’ he wrote in the ‘affirmation’ that they presented to the court, citing him twice in the second paragraph of their filing.

But in his deposition for the fraud trial, Giulietti sometimes described Trump as having sufficient liquid assets to support underwriting. 

‘Even without $24.4 million in Vornado Partnership funds in 2018, President Trump’s liquidity far exceeded the total exposure of $20 million for the Zurich surety program,’ Trump’s lawyers wrote, citing Giulietti. 

There are limits to what his statements on behalf of his friend and client can achieve. As soon as Monday, state Attorney General Letitia James might be able to start seizing properties or slapping on liens of Trump is unable to come up with the cash or someone to underwrite a bond.

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