Trump-Deutsche Bank ties a “bond born of necessity and ambition”: report

Bank officials ignored repeated red flags for almost 2 decades

Mar.March 19, 2019 12:00 PM

President Donald Trump and Deutsche Bank’s Rosemary Vrablic with Deutsche Bank headquarters at 60 Wall Street (Credit: Getty Images, Facebook, and Google Maps)

UPDATED, Mar. 23, 3:30 p.m.: Amid investigations by two congressional committees and the New York attorney general, Deutsche Bank officials have sought to downplay the bank’s ties to President Donald Trump.

But a new report from the New York Times, based on interviews with more than 20 current and former Deutsche Bank executives and board members, argues that the bank’s eagerness to make a name for itself on Wall Street led it to ignore repeated red flags over almost two decades.

The first Deutsche employee to arrange loans to Trump, Mike Offit, was fired in 1999 after executives discovered a forged credit officer’s signature in the paperwork for Trump’s loans, the report said. Offit had provided Trump with a $125 million loan for renovations of 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.

Offit told the Times he was fired because a top bank official accused him of being reckless, a charge he denied.

In 2003, another Deutsche team was hired to sell bonds for Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. “If you get this done, you’ll all be my guests at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump told salesmen. He defaulted on the bonds a year later.

Then in 2005, the bank lent Trump more than $500 million for the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Trump later sued the bank to avoid payment, arguing that the 2008 financial crisis was “an act of god.”

In later years, Trump developed deep ties with the bank’s private-banking division, headed by Rosemary Vrablic, who was first introduced to Trump by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The increased scrutiny of its activities comes at a sensitive time for Deutsche Bank, which recently began merger talks with another struggling Frankfurt-based bank, Commerzbank.

In the weeks before the president’s inauguration, Deutsche Bank told its Wall Street employees not to even utter “Trump” in public. [NYT] — Kevin Sun

Correction: A previous version of this post erroneously stated that former Deutsche Bank employee Mike Offit had been fired after executives discovered he had forged a signature on loan documents, and incorrectly attributed the information to the New York Times. The Times article makes no such statement.

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