- A former Deutsche Bank employee discovered several suspicious money transfers between Kushner Companies and Russian individuals in the summer of 2016.
- At the time, Donald Trump was the Republican nominee for President of the United States, and Russia’s election interference campaign was well underway.
- Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and the head of Kushner Companies, has repeatedly come under scrutiny over the role he played in the Trump team’s outreach to the Russian government during the election and transition period.
- Kushner is a frequent target for foreign governments working to influence US policy: officials in at least four different countries reportedly discussed ways they could manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his business dealings and financial difficulties.
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A former Deutsche Bank employee told The New York Times she flagged a series of suspicious money transfers between Kushner Companies and Russian individuals at the height of the 2016 US election.
Tammy McFadden used to work at the bank’s anti-money laundering division and was terminated last year. She told The Times she discovered the transfers in the summer of 2016. At the time, Donald Trump was the Republican nominee for president, and the Russian government’s effort to interfere in the US election and propel Trump to the Oval Office was well underway.
When McFadden discovered the transfers from Kushner Companies to the Russians, she concluded they should be reported to the US government. Usually, a report like McFadden’s would be reviewed by a team of anti-money laundering experts who work separately from the private-banking division, McFadden and two other former Deutsche Bank managers told The Times.
But in this case, the sources said the report went to managers in New York who were part of the private-banking division. They decided McFadden’s concerns were unfounded and decided not to submit the report to the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit.
Deutsche Bank has long been under scrutiny for its lax lending standards, as well as its willingness to do business with Trump when most other banks refused to work with him because of his financial troubles.
The House Financial Services Committee and the New York Attorney General’s Office, both of whom are investigating Deutsche Bank’s links to the Trump family, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The House Intelligence Committee, which has signalled an interest in the bank in connection to its Russia investigation, also did not respond to a request for comment.
McFadden’s discovery of the transfers between Kushner Companies and Russian individuals raises new questions about Jared Kushner’s potential involvement in outreach between members of the Trump campaign and individuals associated with the Russian government during the 2016 election.
Kushner is a frequent target for foreign countries working to influence US policy
Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and the head of Kushner Companies, was a key figure in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. A significant thread in the probe examined whether the Russians sought out business dealings with Trump or those in his circle to gain leverage over the future president.
Kushner came under scrutiny for his involvement in several episodes that investigators believed may have amounted to a quid pro quo between the campaign and the Russian government.
In one instance, Kushner met in December 2016 with Sergey Gorkov, a Russian banker who is the head of the state-controlled Vnesheconombank (VEB). VEB is under US sanctions, and Gorkov is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Reuters reported in 2017 that the FBI was examining whether Gorkov suggested to Kushner that Russian banks could finance Trump associates’ business ventures if US sanctions were lifted or relaxed.
That same month, Kushner also met with Sergey Kislyak, then-Russia’s ambassador to the US, to discuss opening a secret back channel of communication between the incoming Trump administration and the Russian government.
Kushner in June 2016 was one of three top Trump campaign officials who met with two Russian lobbyists offering compromising material on the Hillary Clinton campaign. The meeting was originally pitched to Donald Trump Jr., who also attended, as being “part of Russia and its government’s support” for Trump’s candidacy.
Russia isn’t the only country suspected of leveraging Kushner’s financial situation to make inroads with the Trump team.
Last year, the Washington Post reported that officials in at least four foreign governments discussed ways they could manipulate Kushner by using his business dealings and governing inexperience to influence White House policy.
Among those nations, the Post reported, were the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel, and Mexico.