Manhattan DA questioned Trump bank and insurer employees in criminal investigation

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Two employees of Deutsche Bank, which has loaned more than $ 300 million to the Trump organization, have been questioned by prosecutors, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The talks took place after the November presidential election, the people said, and focused on general questions about how bankers assess loans and underwriting criteria.

The questioning was not specific to the bank’s relationship with the Trump organization or the president, the people said, with one person adding that was the start of the process. Additional talks are expected in the near future, they said.

Prosecutors also interviewed at least one employee of Aon, an insurance broker who worked with the president’s company, according to a source familiar with the matter.

A spokeswoman for Aon confirmed that the company had received a subpoena and said it was cooperating with the investigation. The spokesperson declined to comment on interviews with employees. Representatives of Deutsche Bank and the district attorney’s office, headed by Cyrus Vance, also declined to comment. Deutsche Bank was subpoenaed in connection with the investigation last year and said it was cooperating with authorized investigations.
The New York Times first reported on interviews with employees at Deutsche Bank and Aon.

The talks with Trump’s counterparts come as prosecutors await a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on a grand jury subpoena for the president’s tax returns. The president has lost several court challenges in an attempt to block the eight-year subpoena to Mazars USA, his longtime accounting firm, of his personal and business records and tax returns.

Last month, the U.S. Circuit’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s latest effort to block the subpoena, paving the way for his execution. Lawyers for the president have asked the Supreme Court to stay or stop the ruling and a ruling is expected overnight.

Mazars’ records are critical to the investigation, prosecutors said. The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation is the only criminal investigation into Trump, his business and his family and will continue after he leaves. Trump has had discussions about granting pardons to his family members and possibly himself, CNN reported, but those pardons would not protect him from a criminal indictment by the state.

In court records, the district attorney’s office suggested the investigation may relate to tax evasion, insurance fraud and schemes to defraud its lenders. They also recently subpoenaed the Trump organization over documents relating to the fees it paid to consultants, including a payment made to a company controlled by the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. .

The Trump Organization has denied any wrongdoing and said applicable taxes have been paid.

Last year, district attorney’s office prosecutors questioned Michael Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, at least three times about his knowledge of the Trump organization’s business dealings.

Cohen testified before Congress in February 2019 that the Trump organization allegedly manipulated its financial statements to tailor them to desired results. Cohen said Trump “had deflated his assets to lower his property taxes.” And he alleged that company officials would play with the financial numbers when dealing with insurance companies and Deutsche Bank.

Specifically, Cohen alleged that the president sometimes inflated the value of his assets, including in 2014 when Trump submitted documents to Deutsche Bank as part of an attempted bid for the Buffalo Bills football team. . Trump never made the loan.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to federal crimes, including campaign finance charges for facilitating quiet payments to silence two women’s allegations about affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the business. Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence and was taken into house arrest earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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