Donald Trump has attacked the “corrupt” mainstream media over a report that Deutsche Bank staff flagged potentially suspicious financial moves by entities controlled by the president.
Mr Trump claimed that US media has “never been as corrupt and deranged as it is today” and that he “doesn’t need banks” to do business. He repeated his often-used phrase that journalists are an “enemy of the people” – a stance that the president has been continually and vociferously criticised for as potentially putting media employees in danger and stopping them doing their jobs.
The president’s latest tweet tirade – running to five separate messages – comes after The New York Times said it had spoken with five existing or former employees who said that they had been alerted to possible illicit activity while working in the team responsible for tackling money laundering. The alerts from 2016 and 2017 involved entities controlled by both Mr Trump, including his now-closed foundation, and his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner.
The transactions set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect possible crime and when they were reviewed by compliance staff, they believed should be sent to to a unit of the Treasury Department that deals with financial crimes. According to the newspaper, staff said executives at the German bank rejected the advice and the reports were not filed with the government.
The NYT report said some transactions involved money being transferred back and forth between foreign entities and individuals. Property developers like Mr Trump and Mr Kushner do often deal in all-cash payments to those outside the US, which can be flagged as suspicious. Such red flags do not necessarily mean that the transactions were improper.
According to the bank staff, the decision not to send the suspicious activity forms to the government “was part of a pattern of ... rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients”. Deutsche Bank is said to have lent up to $2bn to Mr Trump in total.
“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 and was the only employee to go on the record. “It’s the DB way. They are prone to discounting everything.” Ms McFadden said she was terminated last year after she raised concerns about the bank’s practices.
Ms McFadden has since filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators.
The Mainstream Media has never been as corrupt and deranged as it is today. FAKE NEWS is actually the biggest story of all and is the true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! That’s why they refuse to cover the REAL Russia Hoax. But the American people are wise to what is going on.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)May 20, 2019
Deutsche Bank denied that any reports had been blocked. “At no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious,” a spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
“Furthermore, suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false.”
“We have increased our anti-financial crime staff and enhanced our controls in recent years and take compliance with the AML/BSA laws very seriously,” the statement added.
Mr Trump called the story “phony” and “wrong” saying that it was his “great business” that allowed him to deal in cash.
“Banks have always been available to me, they want to make money. Fake media only says this to disparage, and always uses unnamed sources.”
....Now the new big story is that Trump made a lot of money and buys everything for cash, he doesn’t need banks. But 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...and DeutscheBank......— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)May 20, 2019
He described Deutsche Bank as “very good and highly professional to deal with”.
The Trump Organisation said it had “no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank”. Kushner Companies said any allegation involving its links with Deutsche and money laundering were “totally false”.
The New York Times has been a frequent source of frustration for the president with Mr Trump falsely accusing the paper of leading a fake news conspiracy against him.
But the issue of Deutsche Bank extends to congress, where Democrats investigating the president’s finances want to look at the link between the Trump Organisation and Deutsche Bank. The bank has been one of the biggest and most consistent lenders to the president throughout his career. Last month two House committees – financial services and intelligence – issued subpoenas for documents from the bank.
Mr Trump counter-attacked by launching a lawsuit against Deutsche Bank and another financial institution seeking to stop it complying with the subpoenas. The lawsuit claimed the demand for documents amounted to harassment of the president and his family. Arguments in the case are set to be heard in the case on Wednesday.