Thursday, December 3, 2020

Deutsche Bank Ignored Money Laundering Controls – US Congressional Probe

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U.S. congressional investigators have identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG’s (DBKGn.D) money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, after the lender handed over a trove of transaction records, emails and other documents, three people familiar with the matter said.

The congressional inquiry found instances where Deutsche Bank staff in the United States and elsewhere flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions involving existing ones, but were ignored by managers, two of the people said.

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Lawmakers are also examining whether Deutsche Bank facilitated the funneling of illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank, where it processes transactions for others, one of the sources said.

The congressional probe, whose initial findings have not been previously reported, is at an early stage, and it is not yet clear whether it will lead to any action against the bank, the three sources said.

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A Deutsche Bank spokesman, Troy Gravitt, said the bank cannot comment on the work of the congressional committees but remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.

Addressing past deficiencies in the bank’s controls, the spokesman said: “We have worked to address them, taken disciplinary measures with regards to certain individuals and reviewed our client onboarding and monitoring processes.”

The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee declined to comment.

The Democrat-controlled House began examining possible money laundering in U.S. property deals involving President Donald Trump, a Republican, earlier this year. The lawmakers are also looking into whether Trump’s dealings left him subject to the influence of foreign individuals or governments.

The White House and a Trump Organization spokeswoman, Amanda Miller, did not respond to requests for comment.

Deutsche Bank has been drawn into the inquiry as Trump’s biggest lender and submitted documents to investigators in response to a subpoena.

The stakes are high for the German lender, which is trying to engineer a turnaround under Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing after a multi-year bet on building a global investment banking business unraveled.

Related: German prosecutors intensify Deutsche Bank client investigation

Graham Barrow, a financial crime consultant, said that while the bank had since sought to reform, it had taken too many risks in countries such as Russia.

“The bank decided to go for becoming a global investment bank,” Barrow said. “They were compromised.”

Deutsche Bank declined to comment on Barrow’s view.

In 2017, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay regulators in the United States and Britain $630 million in fines for organizing $10 billion in sham trades that could have been used to launder money out of Russia. Two of the sources said that the preliminary findings of the congressional investigators may have some overlap with that case but also include lapses unrelated to that matter.

New evidence thrown up by the congressional probe could feed into further investigations by other authorities, regulatory experts said.

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