Deutsche Bank staff saw suspicious activity in Trump, Kushner accounts

David Enrich, The New York Times

Posted at May 20 2019 07:56 AM

President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner waves to someone in the crowd as he waits to hear his wife Ivanka Trump speak at the Milken Institute's 22nd annual Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, US, April 29, 2019. Mike Blake, Reuters

JACKSONVILLE, Florida — Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.

The transactions, some of which involved 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.

But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government.

The nature of the transactions was not clear. At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.

Real estate developers like Trump and Kushner sometimes do large, all-cash deals, including with people outside the United States, any of which can prompt anti-money laundering reviews. The red flags raised by employees do not necessarily mean the transactions were improper. Banks sometimes opt not to file suspicious activity reports if they conclude their employees’ concerns are unwarranted.

But former Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws. The employees — most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve their ability to work in the industry — said it was part of a pattern of the bank’s executives rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients.

“You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” said Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist who reviewed some of the transactions. “It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”


2019 New York Times News Service