Congressional investigators have long suspected that President Donald Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank could be key to understanding his Russian ties and the possible leverage Vladimir Putin’s regime holds over him. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that staffers at the international banking behemoth flagged suspicious activities involving accounts controlled by Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
From early on in their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, California Reps. Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters — the top Democrats on the House intelligence and financial services panels, respectively — have zeroed in on Deutsch Bank. The bank provided billions in loans to Trump’s various ventures, even after other banks apparently decided he was not worth the credit risk, and has been accused of inaction in a — maybe unrelated — $20 billion Russian money laundering scheme. Even Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, urged investigation into the bank’s alleged role in international “criminal activities.”
Trump has filed suit to block the bank from complying with a congressional subpoena for his banking records. The challenge is currently pending in the federal courts.
The Times report notes that anti-money laundering experts at Deutsche Bank “recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog,” but the bank did not do so. One of these entities was Trump’s ethically questionable Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Buried in the story is a key detail that could suggest a Russian tie:
Ms. [Tammy] McFadden, a longtime anti-money laundering specialist in Deutsche Bank’s Jacksonville office, said she had reviewed the transactions and found that money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals. She concluded that the transactions should be reported to the government — in part because federal regulators had ordered Deutsche Bank, which had been caught laundering billions of dollars for Russians, to toughen its scrutiny of potentially illegal transactions.
Ms. McFadden drafted a suspicious activity report and compiled a small bundle of documents to back up her decision.
While normal procedure would have been for this report to be examined by an independent team of experts, instead it went to “managers in New York who were part of the private bank, which caters to the ultrawealthy,” who determined her concerns unfounded and declined to submit a report to the government.
McFadden, who said she was terminated in 2018, told the paper that the response by the bank was about par for the course. “You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens. It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”