Trump's favorite bank is facing more government scrutiny, and that can't be good for him.
Deutsche Bank — the bank that loaned money to Trump when no one else would — is in trouble.
The bank, which Trump was once into for $2 billion, has faced scrutiny from a number of quarters. The latest investigation is probably the most worrisome for the bank, and perhaps Trump as well.
The New York Times reports that federal authorities are looking into the troubled bank's compliance with anti-money laundering laws. This time, it's a criminal inquiry conducted by the FBI, the United States attorney's offices in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the Department of Justice's Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.
The investigation appears to be targeting, in part, what the Times revealed last month: that Deutsche Bank's computers had flagged several transactions by Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as suspicious.
That alone wouldn't have been problematic for the bank (though it still would have been for Trump, perhaps), but the bank ultimately chose not to report any of the transactions. That's a problem, because failing to report suspicious transactions can put the bank in violation of anti-money laundering laws.
Deutsche Bank had already paid hefty fines to both the United States and Britain over its past money-laundering activities. The bank helped wealthy Russians convert rubles to dollars via impermissible stock trades. However, those fines were civil penalties, not criminal charges. The Times notes that some senior Deutsche Bank officials may have thought they were "in the clear" because they'd paid the fines.
It definitely doesn't look like they're in the clear. Besides this most recent investigation, the bank faces an inquiry from the House Intelligence Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. They're looking at why the bank remained so eager to lend money to Trump in spite of his multiple bankruptcies and habit of failing to repay loans. As part of that investigation, the House committees subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank. Trump has sued to block the bank from responding to the subpoena.
Deutsche Bank and Trump remain entangled. He still owes Deutsche Bank at least $130 million, according to his latest financial disclosure. Given how hard Trump is working to make sure Deutsche Bank doesn't reveal anything about his finances, there's likely much more to the story.
But the walls are closing in on the bank. While Trump may choose to defy subpoenas and order people in his employ to do so as well, he doesn't have that power over a bank. And now Deutsche Bank might be staring down the barrel of criminal, not just civil, consequences.
At some point, it just might not be worth it for Deutsche Bank to cover for Trump — or work with him at all — any longer.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.