House Democrats have spent recent months focusing on Deutsche Bank – at one point, the only financial giant willing to do business with Donald Trump – as a source for important information on the president’s finances. The latest reporting from the New York Times reinforces the impression that Dems are looking in the right place.
Anti-money-laundering specialists 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.
The transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees. Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.
Many of the details of the transactions are not yet clear, and the fact that the bank had concerns about them does not necessarily mean they were improper.
That said, given everything we know about Trump and Kushner, it’s of interest that some of their transactions were considered suspicious – not just by some bank algorithm, but by bank employees.
It’s also of interest that, according to the Times’ report, in some of the suspect transactions, “money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals.” The same article added that Deutsche Bank discouraged employees not to file suspicious activity reports.
In fact, despite the concerns raised by anti-money-laundering specialists, the bank never alerted the authorities.
What’s more, let’s not brush past the dates too quickly: at issue aren’t just transactions from Trump’s controversial private-sector past, but also developments that occurred during the presidential campaign and after he took office. From the article:
After Mr. Trump became president, transactions involving him and his companies were reviewed by an anti-financial crime team at the bank called the Special Investigations Unit. That team, based in Jacksonville, produced multiple suspicious activity reports involving different entities that Mr. Trump owned or controlled, according to three former Deutsche Bank employees who saw the reports in an internal computer system.
Some of those reports involved Mr. Trump’s limited liability companies. At least one was related to transactions involving the Donald J. Trump Foundation, two employees said.
Deutsche Bank ultimately chose not to file those suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department, either, according to three former employees. They said it was unusual for the bank to reject a series of reports involving the same high-profile client.
This will likely open up new lines of inquiry for congressional investigators, but I’m especially interested in the transactions involving the Trump Foundation – the president’s so-called charity, which has previously been accused of engaging in a “shocking pattern of illegality.” If some of its transactions were also considered suspect, I imagine those scrutinizing the foundation will be eager to hear all about them.