Deutsch Bank, the Russians and the Trump family

By Laurie Bennett

June 26, 2017 at 11:02am

A month before the election, Jared Kushner’s real estate company secured a $285 million loan from Deutsch Bank, the Washington Post reports.

The deal raises, once again, the specter of conflicts between government and business interests in the Trump administration. Kushner was, at the time, an important adviser in his father-in-law’s presidential campaign. He now has an official role in the White House, as senior adviser to the president.

The president also owes money to Deutsche. His most recent financial disclosure lists more than $75 million in loans from the bank. Deutsch is also a lender to the Trump Organization.

As Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsch is a major player on the international financial scene, so it’s not shocking that the bank would have interactions with American real estate firms such as the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies.

However, its many entanglements with U.S. authorities raise lots of flags.

Deutsche reached a a $7.2 billion settlement with the Justice Department last December 2016 for misleading investors in the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities. The previous year, it agreed to pay $2.5 billion for interest rate manipulation. In early 2017, it was hit with $630 million in penalties for its role in a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme.

U.S. investigators in that case found that much of the Russian money was piped through Deutsche’s New York bank. As the New York Times reported:

What was known as the Russian mirror trading scheme “occurred while the bank was on clear notice of serious and widespread compliance issues dating back a decade,” said Maria T. Vullo, the superintendent for financial services at the (New York State Department of Financial Services). “The offsetting trades here lacked economic purpose and could have been used to facilitate money laundering or enable other illicit conduct.”

In May, Rep. Maxine Waters and four other Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Deutsche Bank CEO John Cryan, requesting details on the bank’s role in Russian scandal. Two months earlier, they asked Jeb Hensarling, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, to initiate a review.

The letter to Hensarling expressed concerns “about the integrity of this criminal probe…given the President’s ongoing conflicts of interest with Deutsche Bank,” along with “suspicious ties between President Trump’s inner circle and the Russian government.”

Which leads to other concerns, about Trump’s hiring and firing decisions.

  • In May, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who was heading the agency’s investigation of possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
  • The president fired Acting Atty. Gen. Sally Yates in January, after she refused to defend his immigration order. Yates also had raised concerns about Michael Flynn, then national security adviser, and his ties to Russia.
  • And in March, Trump fired Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The dismissal came two months after Bharara announced a $95 million settlement in a case brought against Deutsch for income tax avoidance.
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