Anti-money laundering specialists proposed filing “suspicious activity reports” about transactions connected to President Trump and his son-in-law. Bank managers said no.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.
The transactions, some of which involved Mr. 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 Mr. Trump and Mr. 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.”
Ms. McFadden said she was terminated last year after she raised concerns about the bank’s practices. Since then, she has filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators about the bank’s anti-money-laundering enforcement.
Kerrie McHugh, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman, said the company had intensified its efforts to combat financial crime. An effective anti-money laundering program, she said, “requires sophisticated transaction screening technology as well as a trained group of individuals who can analyze the alerts generated by that technology both thoroughly and efficiently.”
“At no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious,” she added. “Furthermore, the suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false.”
Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for the Trump family’s many business interests, said: “We have no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank.” She said the Trump Organization currently has “no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank.” She did not respond when asked if other Trump entities had accounts.
Karen Zabarsky, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said: “Any allegations regarding Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Kushner Companies which involved money laundering is completely made up and totally false. The New York Times continues to create dots that just don’t connect.”
Deutsche Bank’s decision not to report the transactions is the latest twist in Mr. Trump’s long, complicated relationship with the German bank — the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to do business with the real estate developer.
Congressional and state authorities are investigating that relationship and have demanded the bank’s records related to the president, his family and their companies. Subpoenas from two House committees seek, among other things, documents related to any suspicious activities detected in Mr. Trump’s personal and business bank accounts since 2010, according to a copy of a subpoena included in a federal court filing.
Mr. Trump and his family sued Deutsche Bank in April, seeking to block it from complying with the congressional subpoenas. The president’s lawyers described the subpoenas as politically motivated. Finish: Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner Accounts