NYT: Jacksonville employees at bank flagged Trump, Kushner bank activity

Finance editor at New York Times cites employees at Deutsche Bank in his article

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Jill Disis, CNN Business

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A national story concerning the president’s finances is drawing attention to Jacksonville.  

The article, published in The New York Times, concerns President Donald Trump's and his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s dealings with Deutsche Bank, which has a large presence on Jacksonville’s Southside.

The Times article reports that “anti-money-laundering specialists” noticed transactions involving Trump and Kushner businesses dealings in 2016 and 2017. According to the article, those employees at the bank felt the transactions should be “reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.”

News4Jax spoke with David Enrich, the finance editor at The Times who wrote the article, by phone Tuesday.

“The employees raised these concerns, prepared to file what is known as a suspicious activity report, which would be sent to the federal government. It would alert them to potentially problematic actions,” Enrich said. “And as those proposed reports went up the food chain at Deutsche Bank. Managers ultimately decided that they should not be filed. So they killed the reports, which employees perceived as the bank essentially trying to protect two of its very lucrative, long-standing clients."

David Enrich

Enrich (pictured in his photo taken outside Deutsche Bank's Jacksonville office) cited multiple low-level employees at Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville who were unhappy with what happened. But only one spoke publicly. That was an ex-employee named Tammy McFadden. She was the only one willing to attach her name to this.

“That’s rare. It’s very unusual, especially in this era, for an employee -- not a senior employee either, but a relatively junior employee -- to take the personal and professional risk of speaking out publicly,” Enrich said. 

News4Jax stopped by McFadden's home Tuesday and she declined to comment. A check of her social media yielded little except one post. The day before Trump was inaugurated in 2017, she changed her profile picture at the time to a photo of President Barack Obama. 

News4Jax also learned that Enrich is currently selling a book about the president. The tweet pinned at the top of his Twitter profile reads, “My book on @DeutscheBank & @realDonaldTrump is available for preorder!”

When asked for comment, Deutsche Bank sent the following statement:  

"We have increased our anti-financial crime staff and enhanced our controls in recent years and take compliance with the AML/BSA laws very seriously.  An effective AML program requires sophisticated transaction screening technology as well as a trained group of individuals who can analyze the alerts generated by that technology both thoroughly and efficiently.  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.”

The Times report is significant in part because Deutsche Bank has been one of the few big banks willing to lend money to the Trump Organization in recent years. Trump's businesses have borrowed more than $300 million from Deutsche to finance a golf course in Florida and hotels in Chicago and Washington, according to financial disclosures and public filings from 2012 to 2015.

The Kushner Companies said in a statement to CNN Business: "The New York Times tries to create scandalous stories which are totally false when they run out of things to write about."

Spokespeople for the Trump Organization and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN Business.

A Trump Organization spokesperson told The Times that the company had "no knowledge of any 'flagged' transactions with Deutsche Bank." A Kushner companies spokesperson told the newspaper that "any allegations regarding Deutsche Bank's relationship with Kushner Companies which involved money laundering is completely made up and totally false."

The relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank has been scrutinized in recent weeks. Last month, Trump, three of his children and his business sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to block them from turning over financial records to congressional committees that have issued subpoenas for the information.

 

CNN's Cristina Alesci contributed to this report.

WJXT/CNN