Germany‘s largest lender Deutsche Bank failed to forward suspicions about transactions involving US President Donald Trump to American authorities, The New York Times reported on Sunday, prompting the firm to issue a denial Monday.
“At no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious” to the Treasury Department, a spokesman for the bank told the AFP news agency.
“The suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns related to any client is categorically false,” he added.
The New York Times reported that Deutsche did not follow recommendations from its own money-laundering specialists that some transactions by companies controlled by Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner should be flagged to authorities.
Certain dealings in 2016 and 2017, including some with entities and individuals outside the US, set off automated alerts in the bank’s systems, prompting employees to prepare “suspicious activity reports” on some of them.
But executives “rejected their employees’ advice” that they be sent to the Treasury, the New York Times reported.
Former employees interviewed by the newspaper, some speaking on condition of anonymity, alleged a culture of blocking suspicious activity reports to protect client relationships at Deutsche Bank, with one saying she was fired after raising concerns.
Deutsche Bank was one of the few major banks to continue to lend to Trump following the bankruptcies of his casinos and other businesses in the 1990s, and has lent “billions” to him and to Kushner according to the New York Times.
“We have increased our anti-financial crime staff and enhanced our controls in recent years and take compliance with the anti-money-laundering laws very seriously,” the Deutsche spokesman said.
While the lender has boosted its compliance staff to around 3,000 people spread around the world, its performance in pursuing financial crime has failed to satisfy some authorities.
Last year, German market watchdog Bafin took the unprecedented step of naming audit firm KPMG as an independent supervisor of Deutsche Bank’s progress on squeezing out money-laundering and other illicit activities.
That role has been extended to cover so-called “correspondent banking” after Deutsche Bank was drawn into a massive money-laundering scandal around Denmark’s Danske Bank.
News that Deutsche Bank is suspected of laundering billions of dollars of money from criminals connected to the Kremlin and the Russian secret services has added to the controversy over Trump’s links.
Trump, who was negotiating the construction of a skyscraper in Moscow well into his presidential run, has been dogged for two years by allegations of improper dealings with Russian entities.
Responding to the Times report on Monday, he denied that Deutsche Bank was the only lender willing to deal with him or that Russia had anything to do with his wealth.
“Where did he get all of that cash? Could it be Russia? No, I built a great business and don’t need banks, but if I did they would be there,” Trump tweeted, adding that Deutsche Bank “was very good and highly professional to deal with”.
“If for any reason I didn’t like them, I would have gone elsewhere….there was always plenty of money around and banks to choose from. They would be very happy to take my money. Fake News!” he tweeted.
Two House committees have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and several other financial institutions as part of their investigations into Trump’s finances. Trump, his family and the Trump Organization have filed a lawsuit to try to stop them from complying.