Senators urge brighter Fed spotlight on Deutsche Bank AML practices

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WASHINGTON — Democratic senators want the Federal Reserve to investigate Deutsche Bank’s anti-money-laundering compliance following allegations that the bank suppressed suspicious activity reports on businesses tied to President Trump and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

The lawmakers — led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio — sent a letter seeking details on whether Fed staff have looked further into the allegations, what are the results so far of such an investigation and whether anyone from the administration has contacted the Fed about Deutsche Bank, among other questions.

“We urge you to undertake a thorough evaluation of the Bank’s compliance with Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money-laundering regulations with respect to the Trump and Kushner-related activities identified by Deutsche Bank compliance staff as suspicious,” the senators said in a letter Thursday to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John C. Williams.

The New York Times reported last month that senior officials in Deutsche Bank’s wealth management division quashed the SARs, which had been prepared by compliance staff and related to transactions involving the Kushner Cos., the Trump Foundation and other entities. Kushner is President Trump’s son-in-law and a top adviser at the White House. After that report, Brown and Van Hollen sent a similar letter to Deutsche Bank seeking answers.

The letter was also signed by five other Democratic Senate Banking Committee members: Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Catherine Cortez Masto of New Mexico and Tina Smith of Minnesota.

The Democrats’ call for further investigation comes as Deutsche Bank has consistently come under scrutiny for its financial ties to President Trump’s businesses. House Democratic lawmakers looking into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election have also attempted to subpoena Trump-related financial records from Deutsche Bank and other institutions.

The senators’ letter asked the Fed principals if the central bank can determine how many SARs were allegedly quashed and sought details about the concerns first raised by Deutsche Bank’s compliance teams that would have prompted the filing of SARs.

“Were the initial suspicious activity concerns identified by Deutsche Bank compliance staff triggered by concerns about the originators of the funds, the recipients of the funds, or both? Did any of the activity involve entities located overseas?” the senators wrote.

Through a spokeswoman, Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the Federal Reserve Board said of the Democrats’ correspondence, “We have received the letter and plan to respond.”

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AML Financial crimes Crime and misconduct Donald Trump Sherrod Brown Deutsche Bank Federal Reserve Senate Banking Committee