Top Democrat adds call for probe of Trump over Deutsche Bank links

Adam Schiff said Deutsche Bank paid hundreds of millions in fines to New York for laundering Russian money

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in line to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks to reporters at the Capitol before a classified briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel to the House leadership about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the involvement by the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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The incoming Democrat chairman of the intelligence committee in the US House of Representatives questioned ties between Deutsche Bank and President Donald Trump’s real estate business.

Adam Schiff said Deutsche Bank paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the state of New York for laundering Russian money, and that it was the one bank willing to do business with the Trump Organization.

“Now, is that a coincidence?” Mr Schiff said on Sunday. “If this is a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed.”

That could add his panel’s scrutiny to that of fellow Democrat Maxine Waters, who is in line to be chair of the House Financial Services Committee and has also focused on the bank’s connections to Mr Trump.

Mr Schiff’s comments came three days after Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and fellow Senate Democrat Chris Van Hollen called for a Banking Committee investigation of Deutsche Bank’s compliance with US money-laundering regulations.


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In an interview with the New Yorker which was published on Friday, Mr Schiff said the Intelligence Committee is "going to be looking at the issue of possible money laundering by the Trump Organization, and Deutsche Bank is one obvious place to start".

A Senate investigation, which Ms Warren and Mr Van Hollen want to see followed by a report and a hearing, could put further pressure on the lender. The written request from the senators, sent on December 13, cites Deutsche Bank’s “numerous enforcement actions” and a recent raid by police officers and tax investigators in Germany.

It also notes the lender’s US operations being implicated in cross-border money-laundering accusations such as in a recent case involving Danish lender Danske Bank A/S and the movement of $230 billion (Dh844.67bn) in illicit funds.

“The compliance history of this institution raises serious questions about the national security and criminal risks posed by its US operations,” the senators said in their letter. “Its correspondent banking operations in the US serve as a gateway to the US financial system for Deutsche Bank entities around the world.”

Troy Gravitt, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, responded that the company “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to co-operating with authorised investigations”.

Mr Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, questioned the Federal Reserve earlier this year about how it would keep the White House from interfering with oversight of the lender, which had been a major lender to Trump’s real estate business.

Mr Schiff, a target of Mr Trump’s on Twitter, also referred to reported comments by the president’s sons some years ago that they didn’t need “to deal with US banks because they got all of the cash they needed from Russia or disproportionate share of their assets coming from Russia”. He said on Sunday that he expects to learn more about that claim through financial records.