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Trump pushes back on report of suspicious banking activity

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner at the

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner at the White House on Thursday. Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Brendan Smialowski

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday pushed back against a New York Times story that indicated several Deutsche Bank employees flagged suspicious transactions involving bank accounts tied to Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Trump, in a pair of Monday morning tweets, argued that past news reports indicating banks were unwilling to extend loans to the one-time real estate mogul with a history of bankruptcies were “WRONG!” because “I didn’t need money.”

“Very old fashioned, but true. When you don’t need or want money, you don’t need or want banks,” Trump tweeted. “Banks have always been available to me, they want to make money,”

The Times report, published Sunday, indicates that computer software utilized by the bank to detect suspicious activity flagged several transactions in 2016 and 2017 involving entities owned by Trump and Kushner, including Trump’s now defunct charitable foundation.

Five bank employees told The Times that the bank followed up on the initial computer reports by preparing detailed suspicious activity reports that are typically sent to a Treasury Department bureau that reviews potential financial crimes. The employees noted that some of the transactions involved money being exchanged with foreign entities and individuals, but Deutsche Bank never turned over the reports to federal authorities.

All but one of the employees spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity, prompting Trump on Twitter to question the sourcing of the story, saying “their sources don’t even exist.”

Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist who reviewed some of the transactions in question, and spoke to The Times on-the-record, said the bank had a culture of dismissing the suspicious activity reports.

“You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” she said. “It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”

A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman told The Times “at no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious.” 

The president’s long-standing business relationship with the German bank has come under increasing scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers in the past year. The bank last month turned over an initial set of documents to New York State Attorney General Letitia James after she issued a subpoena for a wide range of records related to Trump Organization projects in the state.

The House Intelligence and Financial Committees have also subpoenaed the bank for documents as part of a widespread probe into Trump’s business dealings, prompting the president to file a federal lawsuit last month seeking to block the release of his bank records.

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