South Asian Insider
Democrats pound Treasury official over Deutsche Bank, Trump
(Insider Bureau)-Senate Democrats on Tuesday hammered a top Treasury Department official over a bombshell report that Deutsche Bank resisted reporting suspicious financial activity tied to President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose companies were clients of the German lender.
One after another, Democrats at a Senate Banking Committee hearing that focused on anonymous shell company abuse urged the director of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Kenneth Blanco, to take action on the New York Times story.
Blanco's agency, known as FinCEN, is responsible for policing illegal money laundering and would have received any so-called suspicious activity reports filed by Deutsche Bank. According to the Times, bank employees prepared the reports but were blocked by executives.
"The alleged facts are in plain sight," Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said. "It's essential it seems to me to the public trust and the integrity of FinCEN that these be actively pursued."
Despite the pummeling by Democrats - not a single Republican at the hearing brought up Deutsche Bank - Blanco said he was unable to comment on allegations made in the story, which he said he had been briefed on but had not read.
"You're a very smart man," Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), responded. "It wouldn't take very long to read it, but it might be very informative to you.""Just because it's in the newspaper doesn't mean it's true," Blanco said. "I'm not saying it's false, either."
Blanco suggested that the bank might have been comfortable with the risks it was taking with Trump.
"Everything is fact-specific," he said. "At the end of the day, it could be quite appropriate."
Before Tuesday's hearing, Van Hollen and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wrote to Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing asking him to confirm the accuracy of the Times story and to divulge how many suspicious activity reports were quashed.
Deutsche Bank has said there were "numerous inaccuracies and misleading statements" in the Times story but that legal restrictions prevented it from refuting them in detail.
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