Democrats Press Deutsche Bank for Reports on Trump, RussiaBy
Lawmakers led by Waters question basis for bank’s refusal
Bank could ask Trump for consent, lawmakers say in letter
Democratic lawmakers renewed their efforts to get Deutsche Bank AG to disclose sensitive information about two politically charged matters -- its loans to President Donald Trump and its involvement in a trading scheme that allowed wealthy Russians to convert more than $10 billion into western currency.
The lawmakers, members of the Financial Services Committee led by Representative Maxine Waters of California, asked the German lender a month ago to turn over any internal reviews of its loans to Trump, as well as a detailed internal report about its conduct in the Russian “mirror trading” scandal. Two weeks ago, the bank told the lawmakers that because of client confidentiality rules, it couldn’t comply with the request.
In a letter on Wednesday, the Democrats argued that federal laws forbidding the disclosure of client information to a “government authority” don’t apply to Congress, since the legislative branch isn’t an agency or department of the government.
The letter, addressed to the bank’s law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, chides Deutsche Bank for refusing to acknowledge even the existence of the internal reports, which have been cited in news reports. Waters and her fellow Democrats also contend that bank secrecy laws, which are designed to protect client confidentiality, can’t be used to hide potentially fraudulent conduct.
As for details about the bank’s relationship with the president and members of his family, the lawmakers suggested that the bank simply ask Trump and his relatives for their consent to disclose any such reports. “Given President Trump’s repeated assertions that he does not have ties to Russia, such disclosure would ostensibly be in his interest,” the letter said.
“We reiterate that while we seek to cooperate, we must obey the law,” said Renee Calabro, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman. “Our lawyers will respond to the legal questions raised by the individual members of Congress in due course. In the meantime, we continue to refer the members to the legal basis from our previous response.”
The letter asks the bank to respond by June 29.