Deutsche Bank feared Trump Organization would default on $340M loans while Trump was in office

Execs at German banking giant, concerned about default, considered extending repayment past Trump's term in office

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published February 20, 2019 6:30PM (EST)

Deutsche Bank (AP/Michael Probst)
Deutsche Bank (AP/Michael Probst)

Deutsche Bank executives were highly concerned that the Trump Organization might default on $340 million in loans after Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Bankers discussed extending the repayment dates beyond a possible second term to avoid having to go after a president’s assets.

Top executives at the German bank, the only major financial institution that was willing to do business with Trump after a string of bankruptcies, discussed extending the repayment dates on the Trump Organization’s loans until 2025, when his potential second term would end, Bloomberg reported.

The Trump Organization owes Deutsche Bank $125 million it spent on the Trump National Doral Miami resort in 2023, along with more than $200 million in loans it spent on two buildings in Washington and Chicago in 2024.

According to the report, senior executives at Deutsche Bank, including CEO John Cryan, were concerned about the backlash they might face if the bank tried to go after the assets of a sitting president should the Trump Organization default on the loans. The bank instead decided against restructuring the loans and opted to not do any business with the company while Trump is in office.

The New York Times previously reported that Deutsche Bank rejected a request for a loan from the Trump Organization to help fund work on its Scottish golf course during the 2016 campaign, at least in part out of concern that Trump could win the election.

The Trump Organization denied seeking that loan, as well as the Bloomberg report.

“This story is complete nonsense,” Eric Trump told Bloomberg. “We are one of the most under-leveraged real estate companies in the country. Virtually all of our assets are owned free and clear, and the very few that do have mortgages are a small fraction relative to the value of the asset. These are traditional loans, no different than any other real estate developer would carry as part of a comparable portfolio.”

Deutsche Bank has a long and complicated history with Trump. It was the only bank willing to lend him money in the 1990s after the Times reported he had been “all but excommunicated from Wall Street” following a string of bankruptcies. While other banks refused to lend him money, Deutsche Bank allowed Trump to borrow more than $2.5 billion over 17 years.

Trump stopped paying back one loan during the financial crisis in 2008 and sued the bank, accusing it of helping to cause the crisis. The bank cut ties with Trump but later loaned him money again in 2010 and 2012.

The bank, whose Frankfurt headquarters was raided last year as part of the Panama Papers investigation, has come under scrutiny from investigators.

Trump exploded in anger over inaccurate reports in December 2017 that special counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed information about his business dealings from Deutsche Bank and demanded that the Mueller investigation to be shut down, The New York Times has reported. He relented after learning the initial news reports were incorrect.

But House Democrats say they plan to cross Trump’s self-declared “red line” and dig deep into his finances now that they have control of the investigative committees.

"If the special counsel hasn't subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, he can't be doing much of a money laundering investigation," House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff told NBC News earlier this month. "So, that's what concerns me — that that red line has been enforced, whether by the deputy attorney general or by some other party at the Justice Department. But that leaves the country exposed."

Schiff announced that his committee will launch a joint investigation, along with Rep. Maxine Waters’ Financial Services Committee, into Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank.

“We know that Deutsche Bank is one of the biggest money laundering banks in the country, or in the world perhaps,” Waters told CNBC. “And we know that this is the only bank that will lend money to the president of the United States because of his past practices. He won't show his tax returns and we have certain information that leads us to believe that there may have been some money laundering activity.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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