Fri, 16 Nov 2018
Saint Petersburg

Mueller seeks Trump’s Deutsche Bank records in Russia probe

By Sheetal Sukhija, St Petersburg News
06 Dec 2017, 06:23 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Amid an intensifying investigation into the Russia collusion, U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller is now reportedly asking Germany's Deutsche Bank to provide certain records.

According to reports, Mueller is seeking records of accounts held by Donald Trump at the Deutsche Bank.

A German newspaper, Handelsblatt report has revealed that Mueller issued a subpoena to the bank several weeks ago demanding data on transactions linked to the U.S. president.

Citing privacy laws, Deutsche Bank is said to have previously rejected similar demands by Mueller, who was seeking information on dealings connected to Trump as pat of his investigation into alleged Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election.

In June, Deutsche Bank rejected requests for account records by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide details of the president's finances.

In his role as the special counsel, Mueller has the powers to subpoena records and bring criminal charges.

He has the power to prosecute anyone who interferes in his investigation into crimes including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence and intimidation of witnesses.

Deutsche Bank is said to be one of the Trump Organization's major lenders on its real estate projects and also has ties to Russian oligarchs.

The German institution was a lifeline for the Trump Organization's businesses in the early 2000s when U.S. lenders turned their backs on the then-struggling business tycoon.

The German newspaper report also stated that the president's wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner are all customers of Deutsche's wealth management arm.

However, Deutsche Bank has so far denied commenting on any of its clients, saying releasing any data would be illegal. 

According to analysts, Mueller, who has so far operated on the periphery, now seems to be taking direct aim at the president - who has subpoenaed Trump's Deutsche Bank financial records.

Mueller’s probe has so far focussed on former campaign chair Paul Manafort's previous foreign lobbying efforts, the Russian contacts of George Papadopoulos, a relatively minor foreign policy advisor, and the post-election actions of Trump's confidant Michael Flynn.

Even though his charges are serious, Trump himself has been removed from the prosecutorial action.

If anything is revealed from the bank’s records, the president's defenders are likely to argue that his past business dealings are not relevant to the special counsel inquiry.

According to the German newspaper report, the most important files relevant to the request have already been sent to Mueller's team. 

It said that executives at the lender, which has weathered a series of scandals and swingeing fines in recent years, were reportedly only too keen to hand over what information they have on Trump and remove a political target from their own backs.

Handelsblatt reported that investigators were looking for "information about specific financial and credit transactions with the Trump family.” 

The report further added that an internal investigation at Deutsche "found no suspicious connections between Trump and Russia so far.”

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