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On May 19th, news broke that some Deutsche Bank staffers have suggested that President Donald J. Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, were laundering money. Deutsche Bank’s money laundering experts noted that many 2016 and 2017 financial transactions involving Trump and Kushner’s legal entities qualified for reporting to a federal financial crimes watchdog.
However, these reports were never filed.
The highest-level executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to Trump and Kushner’s legal entities, allegedly chose to dismiss the opinion of the bank’s many money laundering experts. Five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, many of whom spoke anonymously to protect their careers, explained that the transactions in questions triggered automated computer alerts. Upon reviewing these alerts, Deutsche Bank’s money laundering experts prepared paperwork to indicate the need for watchdog reporting. Deutsche Bank executives are now accused of choosing to overlook these potential money laundering transactions.
The automated computer alerts and money laundering expert oversight that led to this controversy do not guarantee that money laundering did indeed occur. It is common practice in real estate for wealthy developers such as Trump and Kushner to secure all-cash deals with participants outside the U.S., and any such transactions can set off these alerts. Even the opinions of money laundering experts do not constitute irrefutable proof of illegal transactions.
Deutsche Bank is, in fact, far from the only bank that has ever neglected to pursue action regarding such employee concerns, but current and former workers have said that the bank is unusually carefree regarding money laundering laws. Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank employee, claims she was fired shortly after questioning Deutsche Bank’s practices regarding money laundering. McFadden has since pursued legal action regarding these practices with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other financial regulatory boards.
Currently, Deutsche Bank is facing legal action from Trump. In an ongoing battle between congressional Democrats and Trump’s White House, the president is suing the bank to prevent it from sharing his tax returns and financial records with any third parties.
Trump has thus far denied any wrongdoing pertaining to Deutsche Bank and money laundering. In the same breath, he accused the media at large of unfair practices, a response to criticism and suspicion not uncommon for the president. Via Twitter, Trump’s preferred platform for commenting on any accusations levied against him, he claimed that the media consistently mischaracterizes why he doesn’t use as many banks as other real estate developers might. Although the media, Trump claims, say his bank patterns are the result of banks not wanting to work with him, Trump insists that he has always had enough money to be selective about banks. Just recently, reports claimed that Trump’s businesses were deeply in the red for decades.
As well, Trump lambasted the media’s reliance on anonymous sources for its stories regarding his financial matters and the inner workings of his White House. However, people in Trump’s administration likewise tend to speak only anonymously when talking with reporters.