Here’s why Congress wants to look inside the bank that fronted Donald Trump $2 billion
Just try phoning Trump’s private banker Rosemary T. Vrablic at Deutsche Bank’s U.S. headquarters in Manhattan. Back in 2017, before too many bankers involved with Deutsche Bank started turning up dead, Trump once dared reporters to call her, saying she was the “the head” of the bank and “the boss.”
The good news is that Vrablic, 58, is alive. That is not something to take for granted when you look at two dead Deutsche Bank executives with ties to Trump, Russia and possibly at dead pedophile money man Jeffrey Epstein. One banker was found hanged in 2014 and one in November.
Vrablic’s office picked up right away when this reporter called following the Supreme Court’s decision on Dec. 13 to take up Trump’s argument that he be allowed to shield disclosure of his financial information from Congress and the New York attorney general.
Not surprisingly, the woman who answered the phone in Vrablic’s office refused to identify herself. Nor would she put Vrablic on to answer questions about Trump.
She sounded flabbergasted that anyone from the public, much less the media, would be calling someone who is, for the most part, a mystery woman. And that is despite her role in approving about $300 million in allegedly suspect loans to Trump. That arrangement will be part of a quite likely historic oral argument by the Supreme Court in March with a planned June decision.
Refusing to transfer the call to a corporate spokesperson, the person who answered the phone tried to imply that Vrablic no longer worked there. Then she agreed to take a message that was never returned.
Deutsche Bank lent Trump millions after he defaulted on loans they already gave him and after he once sued them in 2008. Known derisively as a “global laundromat,” the bank is facing U.S. and British legal actions over its role in a $20 billion Russian money-laundering scheme. Two Congressional committees want the bank to release 10-plus years of records involving Trump and his three oldest children as Congress probes Russian money laundering and possible foreign influence involving Trump. White House lawyers have fought the committees tenaciously.
It’s hoped that the Supreme Court’s verdict will end years-long efforts on the part of U.S. officials to glean the truth about Trump’s finances. Especially at issue is whether Russians interfered in the 2016 election and if that meddling was powered by Russian money funneled to Trump through the giant, scandal-ridden German bank.
Teller to Managing Director
Vrablic, a one-time bank teller turned Deutsche Bank private wealth managing director, was Trump’s liaison at the bank. She sat in a hoodie in the VIP section at the Trump inauguration.
Trump borrowed more than $2 billion in the past two decades. Many allege the loans could hold the key to Russian funding of Trump.
Hired in 2006 with celebratory ads in The New York Times and a sweet deal guaranteeing her $3 million a year, Vrablic’s work raised the bank’s public profile–at first in a good way. Now the opposite is true.
Trump burned through his relationships with bank investment and commercial real estate departments because of his constant defaults and failures. Then Vrablic stepped up in 2010.
The Kushner Network
Trump’s daughter Ivanka had just married Jared Kushner, who was a longtime client of Vrablic along with his mother Seryl. Ivanka steered Vrablic in the private bank sector of Deutsche Bank her father’s way. It turned out to be the financial lifeline crucial in helping him win the election.
People at Vrablic’s level in the banking world, even when they are swept up in such international scandals, are rarely household names unless they die suddenly… read suspiciously. Even then, they are familiar to only the most inside-baseball financial journalists. They are never part of the daily Trump-Schiff-Pelosi-Schumer-AOC-Nunes-McConnell etc. political narrative though their influence is often greater.
Their deaths often remain murky. Supposed details take on a life of their own on conspiracy websites but the actual truth remains frustratingly out of reach – a bit like Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged jail suicide.
A Pair of Suicides
Thomas Bowers, 55, Vrablic’s former boss, ran the private wealth division of Deutsche Bank and oversaw loans to Trump and reportedly to Epstein until he left the bank, reportedly in 2015. It is said he hanged himself at his Malibu home on Nov. 19.
His death was first reported in a tweet by David Enrich of The New York Times, one of the foremost experts on Deutsche Bank. “Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction,” an upcoming book by Enrich, focuses in part on the sudden death of William Broeksmit, a senior Deutsche Bank executive.
Broeksmit, a man who “knew too much,” according to Enrich, was found hanging in his London home in 2014. Enrich calls it a “mysterious suicide.”
Enrich previewed the deeply weird story of the whistleblower in the Broeksmit case, who turns out to be the troubled but possibly believable stepson of Broeksmit, in a New York Times Magazine story in October. So far, though, he has done no more than tweet about Bowers, first to announce his death, then to deny “rumors” that Bowers had been Epstein’s banker.
The Epstein Connection
Enrich said on Twitter that Bowers left Deutsche Bank in 2013, prior to Epstein becoming a client. Deutsche Bank would not comment on Bowers and other reports say Bowers left Deutsche Bank in 2015 when Epstein was already a customer.
Epstein, of course, allegedly committed suicide while in jail in August. One of Estonia’s leading bankers, Aivar Rehe, apparently committed suicide in September in Tallinn. Rehe ran Danske Bank which was used by clients in Russia and Eastern Europe to launder billions of dirty dollars. At the time of the Rehe death, Frankfurt prosecutors were eyeballing Deutsche Bank for its part in doing business with suspicious American customers, The New York Times reported.
The Democratic-controlled House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank in April for the records. In turn, Trump sued the bank to prevent it from complying. It’s believed that the bank has documents that would show on how Trump made his money, who he partnered with and extensive details of what he borrowed and resulting transactions.
The subpoenas also included demands for information about suspicious activity in Trump’s Deutsche Bank accounts.
Trump’s Lender of Last Resort
Starting in the late 1990s, Trump had become such a bad credit risk, either repeatedly defaulting on loans or declaring bankruptcy, that no U.S. banks would do business with him.
Deutsche Bank, which badly wanted to expand internationally, especially into the United States, saw an opportunity with Trump and became his chief creditor, despite his rank financial past.
Anti-money-laundering investigators at Deutsche Bank flagged “multiple transactions” involving accounts controlled by Trump and Jared Kushner in 2016 and 2017 and alerted bank executives who apparently ignored the intel, The New York Times reported in May.
“You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” Tammy McFadden, a former Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialist who reviewed some of the transactions told The Times.
“It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”
Additional reporting by Matthew Reagan and Anna Sasser, Occidental College, Los Angeles