Trump Lenders Subpoenaed by NY Attorney General in New Probe

March 13, 2019by Erik Larson

NEW YORK — New York’s attorney general opened a new line of inquiry into President Donald Trump’s business dealings, issuing subpoenas to Deutsche Bank AG and Investors Bank over loans for real estate projects and a failed bid to buy the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The subpoenas issued late Monday were prompted by explosive congressional testimony last month by Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, said the person, who declined to be identified because the investigation isn’t yet public. Cohen told the House Oversight Committee that the Trump Organization had sometimes inflated the value of its assets on financial statements to get loans, or better rates on insurance.

The New York Times was first to report on the subpoenas.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, an outspoken critic of Trump, promised during her campaign last year to investigate the president’s business dealings. Her office has already sued Trump’s personal charitable foundation for allegedly using donated funds for business and legal purposes that benefited Trump and his company. That case is pending.

Trump lashed out after the subpoenas were reported, saying a tweet that New York state officials “are now proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS.”

The subpoenas seek information related to loans for Trump-branded properties in Washington, Miami, New York and Chicago, as well as Trump’s 2014 attempt to buy the Bills, according to the person.

Deutsche Bank had been Trump’s go-to lender for decades, even as other commercial banks stopped doing business with him because of multiple bankruptcies. Although the German lender’s investment bank had severed ties with Trump during the financial crisis, after he defaulted on a loan and then sued the bank, its wealth management unit continued to extend him credit.

Olayinka Fadahunsi, Vice President of Communications at Deutsche Bank in New York, declined to comment on the subpoena. The press office for New Jersey-based Investors Bank didn’t immediately return a call for comment. Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The president has previously claimed that James and her predecessors in the New York attorney general’s office are politically biased and are unfairly targeting him. Trump has also said that Cohen, who pleaded guilty to charges of illegal campaign contributions, is a liar who cannot be trusted.

During his testimony in Washington, Cohen produced documents to back up some of his claims — including an alleged hush-money check signed by Trump and a financial statement that Cohen said was fraudulent. He suggested Trump committed loan fraud by submitting inflated financial statements, including to Deutsche Bank to get a loan when he was trying to buy the Bills. He said Trump was aware that his company also submitted phony valuations to insurance companies to reduce premiums.

Following that testimony New York’s insurance regulator issued a subpoena to the Trump Organization’s primary insurance broker, Aon Plc, for details about its relationship with the Trump Organization and Trump himself, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California, chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, said on MSNBC earlier this month that Deutsche Bank is cooperating with her panel regarding its relationship with the president and concerns about “money laundering.”

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©2019 Bloomberg News

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