Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagged multiple transactions by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner as suspicious both prior and after Trump’s election as president in November 2016 but were prevented from notifying the US Treasury Department by their supervisors.
Trump has banked with Deutsche Bank for over 20 years, borrowing more than $2.5 billion to finance his real estate projects.
According to the Washington Post, the potentially illicit activity was signalled out in 2016 and 2017 in a report that cited five current and former Deutsche Bank employees. The nature of the suspicious transactions was not clear, but some involved money flowing back and forth to overseas entities.
Deutsche Bank employees initially were prevented from taking action by the bank’s New York managers, all of who are part of the business line in which the transactions originated. When he came into office, Trump owed Deutsche over $300 million. This was the period when Deutsche Bank was renegotiating a $15 billion fine for its role in the subprime mortgage scandal that plunged the global economy into chaos in 2008.
After Trump became president, Deutsche Bank deployed a special anti-financial crime team called the Special Investigations Unit who reported on multiple suspicious activity reports in the Trump organisation, with at least two linked directly to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, but these allegations were also not passed on to the Treasury Department, according to three former employees.
In the case of Kushner, the bank employees noted that large transfers of money of individuals from Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan. Deutsche Bank itself has been found guilty and fined for money laundering in many of the former Soviet republics and has faced further litigation in Europe and the United States.
Former Deutsche Bank employees have openly discussed the bank’s culture of not taking anti-money laundering regulation seriously, an accusation to which the lender responds it taking steps to address. Deutsche Bank has also claimed that “at no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious.”
A spokesperson for the Trump Organization denied any knowledge of ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank, while a spokesperson for Kushner Companies categorically denied any money laundering activity.
The US Congress has subpoenaed documents related to any suspicious activities that have been detected in Trump’s personal and business bank accounts since 2010. Trump and members of his family sued Deutsche Bank in April in an attempt to block confidential documents from being released.
Facing the prospect of owing billions in litigation costs, Deutsche Bank continues to be marred in controversy. Earlier in May, the International Monetary Fund urged Germany to speed up the process of restructuring its banking sector, after a merger between Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank failed in April.