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Donald Trump & Co.

Deutsche Bank Turning Over Information on Trump

July 20, 2017

[Photo:  Deutsche Bank Statues, by Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters]


While there’s a lot of mystery surrounding Donald Trump’s business empire, one thing is certain: Deutsche Bank is one of the few major financial institutions, if not the only institution, willing to conduct sizable business with Donald Trump.


Which is why, according to a NYTimes report, federal regulators are currently “reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit.” It’s said they’re looking to see “if the loans might expose the bank to heightened risk.”


And while that or those government investigation(s) are taking place, there is an expectation that it’s only a matter of time before Deutsche Bank receives a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He and his team are already investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election, as well as a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses and those of his associates.


This is all very interesting because, it was just one month ago that Deutsche Bank “stone-walled” a request from 5 Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee to provide details about its business relationship with Donald Trump. In their letter, the Democrats wrote: "Congress remains in the dark on whether loans Deutsche Bank made to President Trump were guaranteed by the Russian Government, or were in any way connected to Russia." The bank declined to release that information.


What makes Deutsche Bank central to the various government investigations is … the simple fact that DB is one of the few major financial institutions, if not the only one, willing to conduct sizable business with him. Deutsche Bank has also lent money to son-in-law Jared Kushner and Kushner’s family real estate business. And this symbiotic relationship has been in place for the past 2 decades.


Over the last 20 years, Trump has received more than $4 billion in loan commitments and potential bond offerings from the German lender, despite suing the company in 2008 when he fell behind on payments on the $640 million loan he was given to build Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Incredibly, in order to avoid paying the $40 million he had personally guaranteed, Trump and his lawyer argued that “Deutsche Bank is one of the banks primarily responsible for the economic dysfunction we are currently facing”- i.e. the global financial crisis - and therefore it should pay him $3 billion in damages under the extraordinary event clause in his contract.


When the dust settled, the bank granted Trump extra time to pay – which he did with another loan from DB’s wealth-management unit. Subsequently, Trump moved his business from the real estate group to the private wealth management group, where, according to the NYTimes, “executives were more willing to deal with him.” One of those executives was Rosemary Vrablic, who has helped finance 3 Trump properties over the last 6 years, lending $300 million in the process. That amount is “somewhat unusual by Wall Street standards,” former and current Deutsche Bank executives and wealth managers at other firms on Wall Street told the Times.


Yet, beyond Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, Deutsche Bank itself has deep ties to Russia. The bank had a “cooperation agreement” with the Russian state-owned development bank, Vnesheconombank, which has been swept up in the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election. And it had ties to VTB Bank, a far larger Russian bank facing sanctions in the United States and the European Union. The Russian firm’s investment banking arm, VTB Capital, was created by hiring dozens of bankers from Deutsche Bank’s Moscow office.


All in all, it’s comforting to see government investigators “following the money,” which in these days often leads directly to Deutsche Bank. Now let’s observe CEO John Cryan as he accommodates these investigations while continuing his struggles to rebuild Deutsche Bank.