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House Democrats Warn of Trump’s Potential Conflicts Over Deutsche Bank

Posted by hkarner - 25. November 2016

Date: 24-11-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Lawmakers say president-elect will have ‘ample opportunity to make and influence policy decisions’

WASHINGTON—A group of top House Democrats are warning federal investigators that President-elect Donald Trump might give special favors to beleaguered Deutsche Bank AG, the only big Wall Street bank that lends to him.

The Democrats, led by Reps. Maxine Waters of California and Carolyn Maloney of New York, said in a letter this week to the internal watchdogs at federal financial agencies that Mr. Trump might seek to influence the German bank’s settlement discussions with the Justice Department. The department sought $14 billion as its opening bid in talks with the bank to settle a set of high-profile mortgage-securities probes stemming from the financial crisis, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

“Trump will have ample opportunity to make and influence policy decisions that benefit his personal business and financial interests,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter dated Tuesday. “Deutsche has been the only major Wall Street bank to continue to lend to Donald Trump and his entities in the wake of six Trump-business bankruptcies.”

The letter comes as Mr. Trump prepares to enter the White House with more potential conflicts of interest and less transparency about his finances than any recent president. Though Mr. Trump has said he would transfer control of his businesses to his children, he indicated Tuesday that he was unlikely to disentangle himself from his business empire as fully as he previously said.

Mr. Trump told the New York Times that “the law’s totally on my side” and that “the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

A spokesman for Mr. Trump didn’t respond to requests for comment on the House Democrats’ letter.

A Deutsche Bank spokeswoman declined to comment. The bank in September confirmed the Justice Department has asked for $14 billion but said in a statement the bank has been invited to submit a counterproposal.

„The negotiations are only just beginning. The bank expects that they will lead to an outcome similar to those of peer banks which have settled at materially lower amounts,” the bank said at the time.

Deutsche Bank has been a steadfast financial backer of Mr. Trump’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with the president-elect, according to a March analysis by The Wall Street Journal.

Other Wall Street banks, after doing extensive business with Mr. Trump in the 1980s and 1990s, pulled back in part due to frustration with his business practices but also because he moved away from real-estate projects that required financing, according to bank officials. Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are among the banks that don’t currently work with him.

Ivanka Trump, who works with her father at the Trump Organization LLC, which holds the family’s real-estate and other business interests, denied that Wall Street banks are wary of doing business with the family.

“The biggest banking institutions are constantly soliciting us,” Ms. Trump said in an interview with the Journal earlier this year. “But we don’t need a lot of financing because we have a great balance sheet and a tremendous amount of cash.”

In Tuesday’s letter, the House lawmakers asked the inspectors general of the Justice Department, Treasury Department and six other agencies to closely scrutinize Mr. Trump’s personnel picks for the agencies.

“We ask you to take immediate and proactive steps to ensure that any new political appointees at your respective agencies are held to the highest possible ethical standards and that you commit to diligently and constantly monitoring the actions of such appointees and mitigating conflicts of interest when they inevitably arise,” the lawmakers said.


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