Appeals court directs banks to provide Trump financial records

A US court upholds the legality of congressional subpoenas seeking Trump’s banking records.

    Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]
    Germany's Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany [File: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

    A United States appeals court on Tuesday handed President Donald Trump another defeat in his bid to keep his financial records secret, directing Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp to comply with subpoenas from congressional Democrats demanding the material.

    A three-judge panel of the Manhattan-based 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Trump's bid to block two House of Representatives committees from enforcing subpoenas to the two banks seeking the documents. Trump had sued the two banks to prevent the disclosure of his financial records.

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    A lawyer for Trump called the subpoena for financial records "invalid as issued", and indicated that Trump may appeal the decision in the Supreme Court. 

    The subpoenas were issued months before House Democrats began an inquiry in September into whether there were grounds to impeach Trump over his request to Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

    In subpoenas issued in April, the House Financial Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee asked Deutsche Bank for records related to Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization. Politicians have said the requests are part of a wider investigation into money laundering and foreign influence over US politics.

    Trump
    President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington [Susan Walsh/ AP Photo] 

    The Financial Services Committee subpoenaed Capital One in April, seeking records related to the Trump Organization's hotel business.

    In Tuesday's decision, a 2-1 majority of the 2nd Circuit panel rejected Trump's argument that Congress did not have a valid purpose for seeking his records, and that enforcing the subpoenas would compromise his and his family's privacy. The panel said that congressional investigations "substantially 'overbalance' the privacy interests invaded by disclosure of financial documents".

    Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump's real estate business. A 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130m of liabilities to the bank.

    Congressional investigators have already identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank's money-laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

    Trump has sought to keep his financial and tax records private. He broke with tradition by not releasing his tax returns as a candidate in 2016 and as president.

    Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Capital One did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    In separate legal cases, Trump has sought to block House Democrats from obtaining his tax and financial records.

    The Supreme Court as soon as December 13 will decide whether to hear Trump's appeal of lower court rulings that directed Mazars LLP, his long-term accounting firm, to provide local prosecutors in New York Trump's personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018 as part of a criminal investigation.

    Trump also is due to file by Thursday his appeal of a court ruling in Washington, DC, directing Mazars to turn over his financial records to the House Oversight Committee. The Supreme Court last week put the lower court ruling on hold to give Trump time to appeal.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency