Deutsche Bank has launched an internal investigation into a transaction between one of its bankers and a company part-owned by Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
According to The New York Times, the investigation centres around a $1.5m-apartment on Park Avenue bought by Trump family banker Rosemary Vrablic and two other Deutsche Bank staff members.
They bought the property from a company named Bergel 715, which a person familiar with Mr Kushner’s finances told the Times was part-owned by Mr Kushner at the time of the transaction.
If this account of the transaction proves accurate, it could mean that Ms Vrablic had violated a standard policy of not doing business with clients. A spokesman for Mr Kushner’s business, Kushner Companies, told the Times that his boss “has no involvement with the sales of the apartments” and that he “is not the managing partner” of Bergel 715.
The relationship between Deutsche Bank and the Trump family is close and complex. The bank has provided services to the family for many years despite Mr Trump’s long history of bankruptcy and defaults, and has kept him on as a client even after repeated allegations of improper conduct involving both parties.
The Trump family’s financial conduct has previously raised alarm at Deutsche Bank. Last year, it came to light that the bank’s money laundering team had flagged several suspicious transactions that set off automatic systems designed to detect illegal activity. The team allegedly recommended that the transactions be flagged with the US treasury, only to be rebuffed by senior executives.
At the time, Mr Trump attacked the reports as simply the work of a venal mainstream media, which he said has “never been as corrupt and deranged as it is today”. He also maintained that he “doesn’t need banks”. Kushner Companies, meanwhile, called the reports “completely made up and totally false”.
And even before Mr Trump became president, his relationship with Deutsche Bank fell under scrutiny thanks to his massive debts to the bank, which at the time was being fined by US regulators over its provision of toxic mortgages that played a role in the 2008 housing crash. There were concerns at the time that if elected, Mr Trump could intervene in the Deutsche Bank case with a view to protecting his own companies.
The family’s relationship with the bank later became a subject to the Mueller investigation. The special counsel specifically focused on a $285m loan that Deutsche Bank granted Mr Kushner’s company only a month before Mr Trump was elected – and just as the bank was settling with state prosecutors over charges it had aided in a Russian money-laundering scheme.
Today, the bank is fighting off subpoenas for various of Mr Trump’s financial records, in particular his tax returns. The president sued to prevent his records from being turned over, but the Supreme Court ultimately ruled 7-2 that presidents are not immune from criminal investigation.