House Democrats Ask Deutsche Bank If Trump Accounts Have Russia Ties

In the aftermath of prior media reports that in the past Deutsche Bank provided hundreds of millions in loans to Trump, today Democratic lawmakers - looking for a smoking gun- asked Germany's largest bank to hand over its findings on "two politically charged matters", demanding details whether Trump's DB accounts have Russia ties, and if Deutsche Bank loans to Trump were backed (?) by Russia.

From the letter:

We write seeking information relating to two internal reviews reportedly conducted by Deutsche Bank ("Bank"): one regarding its 2011 Russian mirror trading scandal and the other regarding its review of the personal accounts of President Donald Trump and his family members held at the Bank. What is troubling is that the Bank to our knowledge has thus far refused to disclose or publicly comment on the results of either of its internal reviews. As a result, there is no transparency regarding who participated in, or benefited from, the Russian mirror trading scheme that allowed $10 billion to flow out of Russia.  Likewise, 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. It is critical that you provide thisCommittee with the information necessary to assess the scope, findings and conclusions of your internal reviews.

Along with the internal review of the Russian stock-trading scheme, Democrats are seeking any internal correspondence and communications related to loans extended to Trump and his immediate family members. The bank has made more than $300 million in loans to Trump, for the Doral golf resort in Florida, a Washington, D.C., hotel and a Chicago tower.

“Deutsche Bank’s pattern of involvement in money laundering schemes with primarily Russian participation, its unconventional relationship with the President, and its repeated violations of U.S. banking laws over the past several years, all raise serious questions about whether the Bank’s reported reviews of the mirror trading scheme and Trump’s financial ties to Russia were sufficiently robust,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The letter, which asks Deutsche Bank to respond by June 2, also asks whether the bank’s loans to Trump, made years before the New York developer ran for president, “were guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia.”

It was not clear just how Russia would  "guarantee" a loan that is by definition secured (as a recourse loan at that) by an asset, although the confusion is understandable, as the initiative is being spreadheaded by Maxine Waters, who together with four other Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, has asked the Frankfurt-based lender for the various documents.

Other details: the lawmakers asked whether the bank’s loans to Trump, made years before the New York developer ran for president, “were guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia.” A copy of the letter sent to the bank was reviewed by Bloomberg News.

That said, it is unlikely that either Trump or DB will lose much sleep over this initial disclosure request: as the minority party, Democrats don’t have the power to force Deutsche Bank to make any disclosures.

Furthermore, it’s not clear whether Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the committee, shares his colleagues’ interest in the matter. If past is prologue, the answer is most likely note: Bloomberg reminds us that the same group of Democrats demanded in March that Hensarling hold a hearing to explore the bank’s conduct in the Russian mirror-trading scandal, as part of an effort to ensure that the Justice Department investigation wasn’t influenced by the lender’s relationship with Trump. No hearing has been scheduled.

That said, Democrats may have a good reason to peek inside DB's book, citing the bank's previous compliance failures, "which have resulted in more than $6 billion in fines and penalties to U.S. regulators since 2015."  Previously, Bloomberg has reported that the bank’s loans to Trump were structured as “recourse” loans, which, in the case of default, would allow the bank to go after Trump’s own assets.

The full letter is below (link):