Deutsche Bank has refused to release information on loans to President Donald Trump and any possible connections to Russia requested by members of the House Financial Services Committee.
Democrats on the committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters of California, and others last month sent a letter to the German bank requesting details about an estimated $340 million in loans to Trump since 2012, along with any related information concerning the bank’s Russian accounts. The letter also asked for the bank’s internal report on a Russian money-laundering operation using Deutsche Bank.
The committee members are seeking to determine if the Trump loans may have been “guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia,” the letter explained.
Deutsche Bank “reportedly conducted an internal review of the personal accounts of President Trump and his family members, several of whom serve as official advisors to the president,” the letter noted.
The review reportedly aimed to “determine if loans made to him were backed by guarantees from the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia, as they were made in ‘highly unusual circumstances’ at a time when nearly all other financial institutions refused to lend to Trump after his businesses repeatedly declared bankruptcy,”
The letter added: “Only with full disclosure can the American public determine the extent of the President’s financial ties to Russia and any impact such ties may have on his policy decisions.”
Deutsche Bank responded last week, refusing the letter’s requests.
“Deutsche Bank, like other financial institutions, is not permitted to disclose details related to its customers,” said the letter from the bank’s lawyers. “This is true even if the individual is a government official or well-known person, and even in circumstances where the individual has made some disclosure regarding their relationship with their banking institution.”
The letter concluded: “While we seek to cooperate, we must obey the law.”
Deutsche Bank continued to loan billions of dollars to Trump since 1996, even though he sued the bank at one point and defaulted on an early loan. Trump turned to the foreign bank after U.S. institutions ceased doing business with the litigious real estate developer. Deutsche Bank became Trump’s “biggest lender and the only bank known to lend to the president after his bankruptcies,” said the letter from the committee members.
The bank earlier this year paid a total of $630 million to the U.K and U.S. to settle some investigations into fraudulent mirror stock trades that Russian account-holders used as a suspected cover to launder some $10 billion.
Beyond possible links to Russia, Trump’s loans from the Deutsche Bank have loomed as a major problem for him from the start of his presidency. The bank has been the target of a major criminal investigation by the federal government.
“President Trump’s conflict of interest with Deutsche Bank ... may undermine the independence and impartiality of the ... ongoing investigation and diminish the likelihood that Deutsche Bank and its senior leadership will be brought to justice,” the Democrats said in a letter to the bank earlier this year.
The bank has reached settlements on some investigations. New York’s Department of Financial Services fined it $425 million and mandated an independent monitor to track bank programs to guard against money-laundering schemes. But an investigation by the U.S, Department of Justice is ongoing.