Deutsche Bank staff saw suspicious activity in Trump and Kushner accounts

Flags near Deutsche Bank’s offices in Jacksonville, United States, May 8, 2019. Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank proposed filing “suspicious activity reports” about transactions connected to President Donald Trump and his son-
Flags near Deutsche Bank’s offices in Jacksonville, United States, May 8, 2019. Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank proposed filing “suspicious activity reports” about transactions connected to President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Bank managers said no. PHOTO: NYTIMES

JACKSONVILLE (NYTimes) - Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.

The transactions, some of which involved Trump's now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees.

Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.

But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees' advice. The reports were never filed with the government.

The nature of the transactions was not clear. At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.

Real estate developers like Trump and Kushner sometimes do large, all-cash deals, including with people outside the United States, any of which can prompt anti-money laundering reviews. The red flags raised by employees do not necessarily mean the transactions were improper. Banks sometimes opt not to file suspicious activity reports if they conclude their employees' concerns are unwarranted.

 
 

But former Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank's generally lax approach to money laundering laws. The employees - most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve their ability to work in the industry - said it was part of a pattern of the bank's executives rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients.

"You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens," said Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist who reviewed some of the transactions. "It's the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything."