US Congressional investigation zeros in on Deutsche Bank’s relation with Trump

The logo of German bank Deutsche Bank on top of a building in downtown Frankfurt Main, Germany, 14 August 2018. EPA-EFE/ARMANDO BABANI

US Congressional investigation zeros in on Deutsche Bank’s relation with Trump


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Two committees from the US’ House of Representatives have requested that scandal-plagued German lender Deutsche Bank provide information about its business dealings with US President Donald J. Trump both before and after he was elected in November 2016.

The House Financial Services and Intelligence committees, now chaired by Democrats Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff sent the House’s request to Deutsche Bank earlier last week, but it remains unclear whether the House has exercised its subpoena power that would formally require senior executives from Deutsche Bank to appear for a hearing with either committee.

Both Water and Schiff have said that with a new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives – the lower house in the United States Congress and responsible for the passage of federal legislation, as well as the power to initiate all bills related to revenue and to impeach of any federal officers.

The two committees chaired by Waters and Schiff want to widen the scope of their investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and have publicly stated that they plan to look into the relationship between Deutsche Bank, Trump, and any connection to the Kremlin.

In 2017 Deutsche Bank resisted pressure to release information regarding an alleged $10 billion money-laundering scheme, opting to settle the case for $630 million with both US and UK authorities. At the time, Trump’s Republican Party, who controlled both branches of the Congress at the time, refused to subpoena officials from Deutsche Bank.

This is a turbulent period for Deutsche Bank which has been embroiled in one scandal after another over the better part of the last year. The bank played a key role in a €200 billion money-laundering scandal mostly involving citizens of former Soviet republics, including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, which was spearheaded by Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.

Deutsche Bank’s proposed merger with fellow German lender Commerzbank is being challenged by European regulators in Brussels as well as by Germany’s own authorities.

For over a decade, Deutsche Bank was one of the main funders of Trump’s struggling real estate business after American lenders refused to financially back Trump business activities after the then-construction mogul filed for bankruptcy on six separate occasions dating back to the late 1980s.

Since February of last year, Deutsche Bank has been forced to cooperate with a separate investigation launched by New York’s financial regulator focusing on the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. That investigation was preceded by an earlier and still ongoing investigation into the bank’s activities by Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel in charge of looking into Russian interference in the US elections.  Mueller subpoenaed Deutsche Bank to find out whether it had provided Kremlin-guaranteed loans to either the Trump Organisation or to Kushner.

The investigations have revealed that Deutsche Bank lent the Trump Organization an estimated €253 million over the better part of at least the last decade. There has long been a suspicion that the Trump Administration is facing a conflict of interest, as the German lender was lobbying to reduce a multi-billion dollar fine that had been imposed on it for its illicit business practices, while the Trump family was also renegotiating a restructuring of its own debt.

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