Money & Banking

Democrats subpoena nine banks in probe of Trump finances

Bloomberg April 18 | Updated on April 18, 2019

House Democrats’ investigations into President Donald Trump’s finances and potential money laundering tied to Russia have prompted them to demand documents from nine banking giants, according to people familiar with the matter.

The House Financial Services Committee, led by Representative Maxine Waters, has issued subpoenas to US lenders JPMorgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, and Capital One Financial Corp, said the people. Foreign banks that received information requests included Deutsche Bank AG, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion Bank, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the subpoenas are not public.

Illegal transactions

The financial services panels’ requests were made in collaboration with Representative Adam Schiff’s House Intelligence Committee, which is focussed on probing whether Russia sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Waters’s investigation is broader, digging into whether banks are illegally helping Russian clients move money out of the country, people familiar with the matter have said.

That nine banks have received subpoenas was revealed in a letter that was made public on Wednesday from Representative Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the Financial Services Committee, to Waters. Previously, the identities of only four of the firms, including Deutsche Bank, had been publicly divulged.

Probing Trump’s business dealings has been a priority for Democrats since his surprise election win more than two years ago. Democrats became empowered to subpoena records from banks and other entities after they took over the House majority in January.

Deutsche Bank, which lent Trump some $340 million, has been a primary target.

Waters said in an April 15 statement that the risk of the US banking system being exploited for illicit activities is a very serious concern.

The California Democrat said her committee intends to scrutinise whether Trump and his associates were involved in illegal transactions. Eric Trump, the president’s son and executive vice-president of the Trump Organisation, said this week that the subpoenas set a horrible precedent, while McHenry criticised Waters for issuing the bank subpoenas without input from GOP lawmakers.

McHenry’s letter to Waters also took issue with what he sees as private agreements between various Democratic committee chairs on how to divvy up their investigations of the Trump administration – with little input from Republicans on such things as subpoenas.

I am concerned that our committee is moving away from the shared goals of oversight towards bending to the political whims of others, he wrote to Waters. Oversight should not be partisan. That is why I sent an oversight letter at the beginning of this Congress to Deutsche Bank requesting documents related to various money-laundering schemes.

Spokesmen for the five banks not previously identified – Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Capital One, Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank – either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment after normal business hours.

Published on April 18, 2019

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