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Deutsche Bank staff flagged Trump, Kushner transactions for watchdog: NYTimes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank AG recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving entities controlled by U.S. President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The newspaper, citing five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, said executives at the German bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees' advice and the reports were never filed with the government.

Deutsche Bank denied the report but shares in Germany's largest bank hit a new low on Monday, below a previous minimum set in December. Shares fell 2.8 percent at 6.65 euros.

Trump rejected the report in a blast of early-morning tweets on Monday, saying he had little need for banks because he had so much cash on hand and denying that the money came from Russia.

The compliance allegations are the latest in a wave of problems to beset the bank which faces investors at its annual meeting on Thursday.

The Times reported that the transactions, some of which involved Trump's now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to the former bank employees.

Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes, according to the newspaper.

Deutsche Bank responded with a denial of the report.

"At no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious," the bank said in a statement.

"Furthermore, the suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false."


MOUNTING PROBLEMS

Deutsche is facing a series of headaches.

Investors are calling on the bank to scale back its investment bank after talks to merge with a rival failed and amid a grim profit outlook. European regulators also fear Deutsche could fail U.S. stress tests.

The Times reported the bank employees viewed the decision not to report the transactions as a result of a lax approach to money laundering laws. They said there was a pattern of bank executives rejecting reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients, according to the newspaper.

One employee who reviewed some of the transactions said she was terminated last year after raising concerns about the bank's practices, the Times reported.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization told Reuters "the story is absolute nonsense." "We have no knowledge of any 'flagged' transactions with Deutsche Bank. In fact, we have no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank," she said.

The newspaper said a Kushner Cos spokeswoman called any allegations of relationships involving money laundering "made up and totally false."

Officials at Kushner Cos were not available to Reuters for independent comment.

The Times said the nature of the transactions was not clear. At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.

The report surfaces at a time when congressional and New York state authorities are investigating the relationship between Trump, his family and Deutsche Bank, and demanding documents related to any suspicious activity.

The president has sued in court in an attempt to block U.S. House of Representatives subpoenas for his financial records that were sent to Deutsche Bank, Capital One Financial Corp and the accounting firm Mazars LLP.

Trump, a real estate developer and former reality television star, still owns the Trump Organization but has maintained that his sons are running the day-to-day operations while he is president.


(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Clarence Fernandez and Keith Weir)