Trump predicts NYT’s demise after suspicious financial activity report

Updated May 21, 2019

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US President Donald Trump predicted on Monday that The New York Times would close down before he leaves office after the newspaper reported that anti-money laundering specialists had flagged transactions involving him and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. — AP/File
US President Donald Trump predicted on Monday that The New York Times would close down before he leaves office after the newspaper reported that anti-money laundering specialists had flagged transactions involving him and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. — AP/File

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump predicted on Monday that The New York Times would close down before he leaves office after the newspaper reported that anti-money laundering specialists had flagged transactions involving him and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“The Failing New York Times (it will pass away when I leave office in 6 years),” President Trump wrote in a tweet. He complained that NYT and “others of the Fake News Media, keep writing phony stories about how I didn’t use many banks because they didn’t want to do business with me.”

Their assertions, he wrote, were “WRONG,” he did not go to bank because he didn’t need money. “Now the new big story is that Trump made a lot of money and buys everything for cash.”

Citing five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, NYT reported that software designed to identify illegal activity alerted the staff about the transactions, involving the now-shuttered Trump Foundation and business entities owned by Mr Trump and Mr Kushner.

After reviewing the transactions, bank staff prepared to file suspicious activity reports to send to the US Treasury Department. But the bank had issued loans worth billions of dollars to both Mr Trump and Mr Kushner and bank executives directed the staff not to file the reports, the report added.

The Times claimed that the bank lent Mr Trump money after several bankruptcies and defaults in the 1990s. CNN said the NYT report was significant in part because Deutsche Bank has been one of the few big banks willing to lend money to the Trump Organisation in recent years.

Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist, told NYT that in 2016 she had reviewed transactions between Mr Kushner and Russian individuals. She thought the activity should be reported to the federal government, in part because the bank had already been hit with fines for failing to report Russian money laundering.

Other employees told the Times that the bank’s Special Investigations Unit, charged with looking into potential financial crimes, “produced multiple suspicious activity reports involving different entities that Mr Trump owned or controlled.” At least one involved the Trump Foundation.

The newspaper claimed that at least some of the transactions involved “money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.” Some employees also faced the bank’s ire after they complained about its anti-money laundering process, the report added.

Deutsche Bank, however, rejected the report as incorrect. The bank’s spokeswoman Kerrie McHugh told the Times that “at no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious. “Furthermore, the suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false,” Ms McHugh said.

President Trump said the reports that he was rejected by other lenders were meant “to disparage” him and pointed out that reporters use unnamed sources “because their sources don’t even exist.”

He wrote that “banks have always been available” to him because “they want to make money.” Mr Trump said Deutsche Bank was “very good and highly professional to deal with” but “if for any reason I didn’t like them, I would have gone elsewhere.”

The AP news agency reported that despite the president’s claim that he did not “need or want money,” he still owes the bank $300 million. And in 2016, the bank lent $285 million to Kushner Companies affiliates.

The USA Today newspaper reported that Mr Trump and three of his children – Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump – have sued Deutsche Bank in an effort to block it from complying with a congressional subpoena for the family’s financial records.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2019