(Bloomberg) — The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee joined Democratic colleagues in questioning ties between Deutsche Bank AG and President Donald Trump’s real estate business.
Representative Adam Schiff of California said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that any type of compromise needs to be investigated. That could add his panel’s scrutiny to that of Representative Maxine Waters, who’s in line to be chair of the House Financial Services Committee and has also focused on the bank’s connections to Trump.
Schiff’s comments came three days after Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and fellow Senate Democrat Chris Van Hollen called for a Banking Committee investigation of Deutsche Bank’s compliance with U.S. money-laundering regulations.
Schiff said Deutsche Bank has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the state of New York for laundering Russian money, and that it was the one bank willing to do business with the Trump Organization.
“Now, is that a coincidence?” Schiff said. “If this is a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed.”
In an interview with the New Yorker that was posted on line on Dec. 14, Schiff said the Intelligence Committee is “going to be looking at the issue of possible money laundering by the Trump Organization, and Deutsche Bank is one obvious place to start.”
A Senate investigation, which Warren and Van Hollen want to see followed by a report and a hearing, could put further pressure on the lender. The written request from the senators, sent Dec. 13, cites Deutsche Bank’s “numerous enforcement actions” and a recent raid by police officers and tax investigators in Germany.
It also notes the lender’s U.S. operations being implicated in cross-border money-laundering accusations such as in a recent case involving Danish lender Danske Bank A/S and the movement of $230 billion in illicit funds.
“The compliance history of this institution raises serious questions about the national security and criminal risks posed by its U.S. operations,” the senators said in their letter. “Its correspondent banking operations in the U.S. serve as a gateway to the U.S. financial system for Deutsche Bank entities around the world.”
Troy Gravitt, a Deutsche Bank spokesman, responded that the company “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.”
Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, had questioned the Federal Reserve earlier this year about how it would keep the White House from interfering with oversight of the lender, which had been a major lender to Trump’s real estate business.
Schiff, a target of Trump’s on Twitter, also referred to reported comments by the president’s sons some years ago that they didn’t need “to deal with U.S. banks because they got all of the cash they needed from Russia or disproportionate share of their assets coming from Russia.” He said Sunday he expects to learn more about that claim through financial records.
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