This week we learned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed data on accounts at Deutsche Bank held by Trump and his family. Most of the reporting on this simply noted that the German bank has been a major lender to the president. But there is a lot more to it than that.
The first thing to keep in mind is that, as reported, Deutsche Bank was willing to lend Trump money when most U.S. banks wouldn’t due of a string of bankruptcies as his hotels and casinos. Because of that, they are his largest lender.
According to financial disclosures made by Trump during the campaign, he owes more than $714 million to several banks. But his biggest lender—by far—is Deutsche Bank, which has provided Trump at least $364 million in financing.
The bank to which Trump owes all of that money has been under investigation for their role in a $10 billion money laundering scheme of Russian oligarchs.
DOJ’s money laundering division along with the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York have been investigating the German lender over allegations it missed red flags that allowed Russians to launder billions of dollars out of Moscow using an elaborate trading scheme…
The New York state regulators alleged in the consent order that they found “serious compliance deficiencies” that “spanned Deutsche Bank’s global enterprise. These flaws allowed a corrupt group of bank traders and offshore entities to improperly and covertly transfer more than $10 billion out of Russia, by conscripting Deutsche Bank operations in Moscow, London and New York to their improper purpose.” The regulator added, “Deutsche Bank has represented that it has been unable to identify the actual purpose behind this scheme. It is obvious, though, that the scheme could have facilitated capital flight, tax evasion, or other potentially illegal objectives.”
While New York state regulators settled this case, the DOJ investigation has gone quiet since Jeff Sessions became the attorney general and Preet Bharara was fired as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had an explanation that has implications far beyond this case.
Under the Obama administration, financial institutions paid hundreds of billions of dollars in fines in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis. The DOJ had reversed decades of tradition by requiring banks to plead guilty to criminal charges ranging from market manipulation to sanctions violations.