Deutsche Bank launches internal probe into personal banker of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner: report

The bank opened a review of a $1.5 million 2013 deal between the banker and a company co-owned by Kushner

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published August 3, 2020 11:11AM (EDT)

Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and Deutsche Bank (Getty Images/Salon)
Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and Deutsche Bank (Getty Images/Salon)

Deutsche Bank launched an internal investigation into the longtime personal banker of President Donald Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to The New York Times.

Trump relied heavily on the bank for loans when other top banks refused to do business with him after a series of bankruptcies and defaults; he still owes hundreds of millions to the financial giant. Kushner's family also borrowed millions from the bank.

Both Trump and Kushner were clients of Rosemary Vrablic, a managing director and senior private banker at Deutsche Bank. The bank opened an investigation into an apartment which Vrablic and two other colleagues at the bank bought for $1.5 million in June 2013 from a company called Bergel 715 Associates, The Times reported.

The review was opened after Kushner revealed in his annual personal financial disclosure filed last week that he and wife Ivanka Trump had earned between $1 million and $5 million last year from Bergel 715 Associates. A source familiar with Kushner's finances told The Times that Kushner owned a stake in the company when Vrablic bought the apartment.

"Typically, banks restrict employees from doing personal business with clients because of the potential for conflicts between the employees' interests and those of the bank," The Times wrote. "Deutsche Bank said it had not been aware that Ms. Vrablic and her colleagues had done business with a company part-owned by Mr. Kushner."

The bank opened the review after Kushner's financial disclosure was filed.

"The bank will closely examine the information that came to light on Friday and the fact pattern from 2013," Deutsche Bank spokesman Daniel Hunter told The Times.

Kushner Companies denied Jared Kushner's involvement.

"Kushner is not the managing partner of that entity and has no involvement with the sales of the apartments," spokesman Christopher Smith told The Times.

The size of Kushner's stake in Bergel 715 is unclear. The company has sold dozens of condos in the Park Avenue building over the last four decades, according to the report. At least one of the apartments was sold to Kushner Companies.

Though Kushner and Ivanka Trump previously listed the entity used to make the investment in the company, this was the first year they listed income from Bergel 715. The income they reported was not related to the sale to Vrablic, The Times reported. There is also no indication that the apartment was sold below market value.

Vrablic is reportedly a "leading private banker" in New York who worked with the Kushner family before even coming to Deutsche Bank in 2006. In 2011, Kushner introduced Vrablic to future-President Trump when most top banks balked at doing business with him.

"I introduced him to this woman Rosemary," Kushner testified to the House Intelligence Committee in 2017. "She is one of the biggest private wealth bankers, probably in the world. Amazing banker, amazing woman. Very smart banker. And she banked my family for a long time."

The following year, the bank lent President Trump about $175 million for his Doral golf resort in Florida and the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago. Trump later pursued a $1 billion loan when he unsuccessfully sought to buy the NFL's Buffalo Bills. Financial documents submitted by longtime former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen showed that Trump inflated his net worth by about $4 billion in his pursuit.

Though his NFL bid was rejected, Trump later got another $170 million in loans from the bank for his Washington hotel. Trump later inflated Vrablic's role at the bank, as well during his 2016 presidential campaign.

"I am friends with all the major banks. They are dying to do business with me," Trump insisted to the Times in 2016 when pressed on financial firms' refusal to do business with him. "Why don't you call the head of Deutsche Bank? Her name is Rosemary Vrablic. She is the boss."

That year, anti-money-laundering specialists at the bank recommended that multiple transactions by companies controlled by Trump and Kushner be reported to the Treasury Department's financial crimes watchdog. At least some of the transactions "involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious." However, executives at the bank rejected the suggestion and never reported them, the Times reported last year.

The Department of Justice last year launched an investigation into the bank's compliance with money laundering regulations.

The watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) also called on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors to investigate whether the bank failed to report suspicious financial activity by Trump and Kushner.

"Deutsche Bank's careless attitude towards banking compliance laws and failure to police its accounts may now be impacting American government at the highest levels," CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. "Questions about transactions between President Trump and foreign actors whose conduct seemingly warranted suspicious activity reports, potentially facilitated by Deutsche Bank, harms the public legitimacy of the institution of the presidency itself."

By Igor Derysh

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

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Aggregate Deutsche Bank Donald Trump Ivanka Trump Jared Kushner Politics Republicans Rosemary Vrablic