WASHINGTON – House Democrats want to know if the Department of Justice is doing a proper investigation into an alleged money-laundering scheme by Deutsche Bank because of President Trump’s ties to the bank and reported ties to Russia.
“Consistent with your past practice of monitoring the Department of Justice’s investigations, we write to request that the committee conduct a formal assessment of the Department’s investigation into Deutsche Bank’s Russian money-laundering scheme, including a review of the new Attorney General’s role in continuing the investigation,” said a letter from Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. Reps. Daniel Kildee, D-Mich., Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., Al Green, D-Tex., and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., also signed the letter, which was sent to panel chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Tex.
Deutsche Bank has been fined roughly $630 million by the New York Department of Financial Services and the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority for its alleged involvement in a trading scheme that helped wealthy Russians illegally move $10 billion out of the country. The DOJ is reportedly doing its own investigation into the matter, but the Trump administration's reported ties to Russian officials have made it a trickier affair.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions found himself in hot water last week for not disclosing contact with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing and has recused himself from an investigation into whether Russia interfered with the November presidential election.
Trump has denied having any improper relations with Russia, but he does have business ties to Deutsche Bank with outstanding loans that reportedly amount to more than $300 million.
“President Trump’s conflict of interest with Deutsche Bank… may undermine the independence and impartiality of the Department’s ongoing investigation and diminish the likelihood that Deutsche Bank and its senior leadership will be brought to justice,” the Democrats said.
Last week, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, asked Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin to investigate whether Trump’s business ran afoul of anti-money laundering requirements, citing past press reports of his son Donald Trump Jr., discussing Russian investment in high-end Manhattan real estate which has become a hotbed for money laundering.
Democrats on the committee have asked Hensarling to investigate the Trump administration before, but Republicans on the committee shot down those efforts.
Content originally published by the American Banker on March 10, 2017.