After four bankruptcies, Deutsche Bank AG is the only bank that would deal with the Trump organization as a lender. And what is Deutsche Bank infamous for? Deutsche Bank fined for $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme (January 2017). Deutsche Bank Offices Are Searched in Money Laundering Investigation (November 2018). Deutsche Bank Faces Growing U.S Scrutiny Over Money Laundering (January 2019).
The NY Times summarized, A Mar-a-Lago Weekend and an Act of God: Trump’s History With Deutsche Bank:
Over nearly two decades, Deutsche Bank’s leaders repeatedly saw red flags surrounding Mr. Trump. There was a disastrous bond sale, a promised loan that relied on a banker’s forged signature, wild exaggerations of Mr. Trump’s wealth, even a claim of an act of God.
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Mr. Trump and Deutsche Bank were deeply entwined, their symbiotic bond born of necessity and ambition on both sides: a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct.
The relationship had paid off. Mr. Trump used loans from Deutsche Bank to finance skyscrapers and other high-end properties, and repeatedly cited his relationship with the bank to deflect political attacks on his business acumen. Deutsche Bank used Mr. Trump’s projects to build its investment-banking business, reaped fees from the assets he put in its custody and leveraged his celebrity to lure clients.
Then Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, and the German bank shifted into damage-control mode, bracing for an onslaught of public scrutiny, according to several people involved in the internal response.
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More than two years later, Mr. Trump’s financial ties with Deutsche Bank are the subject of investigations by two congressional committees and the New York attorney general. Investigators hope to use Deutsche Bank as a window into Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, testified before Congress earlier this year that Trump sought Deutsche Bank loans by inflating assets:
As part of his testimony to the House Oversight Committee Opens a New Window. , Cohen provided financial statements outlining Trump’s assets and liabilities in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2013, his net worth nearly doubled to $8.66 billion due to a new $4 billion line item attributed to “brand value.”
That next year, Trump submitted those documents to Deutsche Bank to try to obtain a loan to bid on the Buffalo Bills – a failed effort given the NFL team was eventually sold to Terry Pegula — and the Forbes company.
“I believe those numbers are inflated,” said Cohen, who was previoulsy sentenced to prison for three years for lying to Congress.
On Monday, “Congressional Democrats issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank AG and other banks to obtain long-sought documents indicating whether foreign nations tried to influence U.S. politics, signaling an escalation of their probes into President Donald Trump’s finances and any dealings with Russians.” House Democrats Subpoena Deutsche Bank and Others as the Trump Investigation Deepens:
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said his panel made the requests in coordination with the House Financial Services Committee, according to a statement.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal reports the “other banks” include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley , Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America as well as Capital One Financial Corp. It also includes Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank.
Both panels have been seeking Trump-related material from Deutsche Bank since Democrats took over the House majority in January. Schiff said the Frankfurt-based bank has been cooperative with the probe and Monday’s request was a “friendly subpoena.” Such a subpoena is typically submitted when a firm is willing to hand over documents but wants a formal request first.
“Deutsche Bank is engaged in a productive dialogue with the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees,” Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Kerrie McHugh said Monday. “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations in a manner consistent with our legal obligations. If you have questions concerning the investigative activities of the committees, we would refer you to the committees themselves.”
The House Financial Services Committee has long been in talks with Deutsche Bank about Trump-related records, including any tied to Russia. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat who leads the panel, signaled last week that her interest in Russia extended to other lenders as well. At a April 10 hearing where the chief executive officers of the biggest U.S. banks testified, her first question was about any business dealings their firms had in Russia.
“The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Waters said in a statement Monday. “The Financial Services Committee is exploring these matters, including as they may involve the president and his associates, as thoroughly as possible pursuant to its oversight authority, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead us.”
The Intelligence Committee is more focused on aspects of financial connections or dealings that could suggest potential leverage by foreign entities over Trump, his family or his business. Trump has some $340 million in loans from Deutsche Bank, according to his most recent financial disclosures.
Possible financial leverage wasn’t mentioned in Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings from his 22-month probe of Russian election interference.
“That’s a different form of collusion, but it is equally compromising to the country because it means the president of the United States is looking out for his bank account and not for the United States of America,” Schiff said in an interview on NBC in February.
Schiff and other committee Democrats had sought to pursue Trump’s financial connections ever since he became president. But it was only after Democrats won control of the House in 2018 that they gained subpoena power.
If Deutsche Bank is actually cooperating with Congress, it’s about to get interesting.