Deutsche Bank Pressured to Come Clean on Trump
The international banking giant that Donald Trump and some of his family use is coming under pressure to appoint an independent auditor to examine its books for any suspicious links between Trump’s accounts and Russia, according to a report in The Guardian.
Deutsche Bank has already conducted a “close internal examination” of President Trump’s personal account and found no evidence of suspicious dealing, according to the London-based liberal-leaning publication. That investigation was a routine piece of compliance after Trump became what banks’ internal money-laundering police call a “politically exposed person,” or PEP, by announcing his run for the presidency. Banks typically subject PEPs to stricter compliance scrutiny. The bank “double-checked” its records after Trump’s election victory in November, according to the paper’s source.
That would normally be an end of the matter, but not everyone is inclined to take Deutsche’s compliance department at its word after a string of governance scandals in recent years that culminated in a $630 million settlement for failing to police money-laundering by its Moscow office last month. As part of that settlement, the New York Department for Financial Services ordered it to hire an independent monitor to review its compliance operations.
The Guardian quoted Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat member of the House Ways and Means Committee, as saying: “I think it’s important for the American people to know the extent of the bank’s involvement with the president, and whether there is any Russian involvement in loans made to Mr. Trump.”
In Deutsche’s recent settlement with the NY DFS and U.K. regulators, there was no suggestion of any link between the so-called Russian “mirror trades” and the president or his family. However, in the context of the furor over National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s departure, and the ongoing controversy over alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign officials, the temptation for Trump’s political opponents to put two and two together and come up with something considerably more than four has become irresistible. Pascrell noted that Deutsche is still under investigation by the Department of Justice over the Russian trades.
Deutsche’s relationship with Trump goes back a long way. The German bank stepped in when Wall Street lenders stopped lending to him after his fourth bankruptcy filing. However, Deutsche’s private bank now manages the relationship, after the commercial banking division also had a bust-up with him in 2009. According to Bloomberg, it has granted four loans, worth around $300 million in total, secured against Trump properties in Washington, Chicago and Miami. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are also clients, as is Kushner’s mother Seryl Stadtmauer (according to The Guardian‘s sources).
Trump’s family has made no secret in the past that they had received significant funding from individuals in Russia and the former Soviet Union to develop their projects. That strategy has sometimes attracted controversy, most notably in the case of the ill-fated Trump SoHo development, where the project’s developers have faced allegations of financing it in part with laundered money. The developers, rather than Trump, were responsible for due diligence in that case, according to Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten.
Spokespeople for Rep. Pascrell and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. NY DFS was not immediately available to comment. Fortune has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment and will update this story if it receives a reply.