New York: 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, current and former bank employees told The New York Times on Sunday.
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, but some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious, according to the employees.
The red flags raised by employees did 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 the former employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the Deutsche Bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws.
They 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,” Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist who reviewed some of the transactions, told The New York Times. “It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”
McFadden said she was terminated last year after she raised concerns about the bank’s practices.
Since then, she has filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators about the bank’s anti-money-laundering enforcement.
In response to the development, Kerrie McHugh, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman, said on Sunday the company had intensified its efforts to combat financial crime. An effective anti-money laundering programme, she said, “requires sophisticated transaction screening technology as well as a trained group of individuals who can analyze the alerts generated by that technology both thoroughly and efficiently”.
Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for the Trump family’s many business interests, said: “We have no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank.”
She said the Trump Organization currently has “no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank”.
Karen Zabarsky, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said: “Any allegations regarding Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Kushner Companies which involved money laundering is completely made up and totally false…”
This report comes after Trump and his family sued Deutsche Bank in April, seeking to block it from complying with the congressional subpoenas to reveal his tax returns. The President’s lawyers described the subpoenas as politically motivated.