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Deutsche Bank probes Trump and Kushner’s personal banker over 2013 purchase of Park Avenue apartment

Deutsche Bank has launched an internal investigation into President Trump’s personal banker over a 2013 purchase of a Manhattan apartment from a company partly owned by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, according to a report.

Rosemary Vrablic and two other colleagues at Deutsche Bank spent $1.5million for an apartment at 715 Park Avenue in New York City.

Real estate records obtained by The New York Times indicate that the property was acquired from a firm called Bergel 715 Associates.

According to the Times, Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, received between $1million and $5million last year from Bergel 715.

The Times reported that a person who was ‘familiar with Kushner’s finances’ said that the president’s son-in-law held an ownership stake in the company at the time Vrablic and her two colleagues bought the Park Avenue property.

There is no indication that the unit in the building, which is described as a 908-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath apartment with a balcony overlooking Park Avenue – was purchased at below market value. 

The unit, 12A, was sold in 2015 for $1.85million – a 22 per cent increase from the 2013 purchase price. The higher valuation is considered normal in New York real estate. 

At the time of the purchase in June 2013, Vrablic was a personal banker to high-end clients that included Donald Trump and Kushner.

Vrablic purchased the apartment along with two of her subordinates in Deutsche BAnk’s private banking division – Dominic Scalzi and Matthew Pontoriero.

Scalzi and Pontoriero have been asked to comment by

Deutsche Bank extended some $190million in loans to both Kushner and Trump at that time of the Park Avenue real estate transaction. In the ensuing years, they would seek to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars more from the bank.

In the years leading up to Trump’s election victory in 2016, Vrablic helped steer a total of more than $300million in loans to Trump, according to The New York Times.

The Times reported that Kushner introduced his father-in-law to Vrablic in 2011.

Kushner arranged the meet-and-greet after he realized that Trump was looking to borrow money from lenders to finance expensive real estate projects that were put on hold due to the 2008 recession.

At that time, Trump was unable to find a bank willing to extend him a loan due to a series of defaults and bankruptcies.

Even though Trump had defaulted on a loan from Deutsche Bank in 2008, Vrablic and her bosses agreed to take him on as a client.

In 2012, Deutsche Bank approved a $175million loan to Trump for his Doral golf resort outside MIami and for the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

Trump also asked the bank for a $1billion loan that he would use to buy the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise, though this never came to pass since the bid to purchase the club was rejected.

Deutsche Bank then lent Trump’s firm $170million which it would use to convert the Old Post Office building in Washington, DC, to a hotel.

Vrabic also extended a $15million personal line of credit to Kushner and his parents, according to the Times.

Banks normally forbid their employees from doing personal business with clients due to the potential for conflicts of interest.

A Deutsche Bank spokesperson told the Times that it had only been made aware of the 2013 transaction between Vrablic and the other two employees and Bergel 715 after it was contacted by the newspaper.

‘The bank will closely examine the information that came to light on Friday and the fact pattern from 2013,’ a spokesperson for the bank told the Times.

Christopher Smith, the general counsel at Kushner Companies, the family-owned real estate conglomerate, told the Times: ‘Kushner is not the managing partner of that entity and has no involvement with the sales of the apartments.’

After Trump’s shock election victory in 2016, his relationship with Deutsche Bank has attracted scrutiny from lawmakers.

The House Financial Services Committee has examined possible money laundering in US property deals involving Trump. 

The House Intelligence Committee has investigated whether Trump’s dealings left him vulnerable to the influence of foreign individuals or governments.

The two committees issued subpoenas in April 2019 requiring Deutsche Bank to hand over the banking records of Trump, his children and his businesses.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors in New York could seek Trump’s financial records from lenders including Deutsche Bank. 

Cyrus Vance Jr, the Manhattan district attorney, in September 2019 sought nearly a decade of tax returns. 

It is part of a criminal investigation that began in 2018 into Trump and the Trump Organization, the president’s family real estate business, spurred by disclosures of hush payments made to two women who said they had past sexual relationships with him – pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. 

Trump and his aides have denied the relationships. 

Investigators hope the records will reveal whether there are any financial links between Trump and Russia’s government, sources familiar with the probe have said.

Sources within Deutsche Bank have denied any Russian connections to Trump loans.

At the time he became president in January 2017, Trump owed the bank around $350 million, according to sources.

The Financial Services Committee also issued a subpoena to Capital One, which had maintained a long-term relationship with Trump and has been scrutinized for some of its business practices.  

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