The missing link is - Deutsche Bank.
Investigators want to know why the troubled Deutsche Bank got into Donald Trump's companies for $1.3 billion when American banks wouldn't touch anything to do with Trump?
This is the same bank that had to cough up a staggering $7.2 billion to the US Department of Justice for its part in a toxic bond scandal. Since the pre-Christmas bond scandal settlement, Deutsche Bank has also been hit with over $630 million in fines by British and U.S. regulators for its role in laundering dirty money from Russia.
The penalties relate to the bank failing to obtain information about its customers involved in mirror trades – ones which “mirror” each other and have no economic purpose – which allowed Deutsche Bank’s Russia-based subsidiary (DB Moscow) to execute more than 2,400 pairs of trades between April 2012 and October 2014.
Shares in major Russian companies were paid for in roubles through the Moscow office and then the same stock would be sold through London, sometimes on the same day, for a related customer, the New York regulator said. The sellers were registered in offshore locations and received payment for the shares in dollars. A dozen entities were identified.
The FCA said the purpose of $6bn mirror trades was the conversion of roubles into US dollars and the “covert transfer of those funds out of Russia, which is highly suggestive of financial crime”.
The regulators found almost $3bn in 3,400 suspicious“one-sided trades” also occurred. The FCA believes that some, if not all, of these formed one side of mirror trades. They were often conducted by the same customers involved in the mirror trading.
“This Russian mirror-trading scheme occurred while the bank was on clear notice of serious and widespread compliance issues dating back a decade. The offsetting trades here lacked economic purpose and could have been used to facilitate money laundering or enable other illicit conduct, and today’s action sends a clear message that DFS will not tolerate such conduct,” said New York’s financial services superintendent, Maria Vullo.
All of which leads us to a quiet meeting last Friday involving Republican and Democrat members of the Senate Intelligence Committee with FBI director James Comey in a basement meeting room. That was followed by the now predictable leak from the intelligence community.
Today’s latest leak from the U.S. intelligence community to the media reveals that the FBI is knee deep in an investigation into middlemen and front companies which connect Donald Trump and his associates financially to Russia. Trump has long claimed he has no financial connections to Russia whatsoever, although his son Donald Jr. causally admitted otherwise years ago. It was already known that the FBI was investigating Russian election hacking, and also investigating four Trump campaign advisors who colluded with Russian intel officials the election. But word of an FBI investigation into Trump’s financial ties to Russia is new, and marks a significant turn in the Trump-Russia scandal.
Given the timing of the leak, it seems probable, though not conclusive, that this is the information which FBI Director James Comey shared with with the Senate Intelligence Community yesterday. Whatever Comey shared with them, it was substantial enough that the Democrats on the committee appeared to finally decide they were satisfied with the effort Comey and the FBI were making on the matter, thus calling off their ongoing complaints to the media about him.
Reuters was the first to report on this newly uncovered FBI investigation into Trump’s financial ties to Russia, which is being run out of the FBI’s Washington DC field office. Republicans on the Senate Intel Committee appear to have found Comey’s briefing to be so definitively damning of Trump that they’re now moving ahead with securing the Trump-Russia evidence in order to prevent Donald Trump from shredding it.
A lot of smoke but no discernable fire, not yet at least. This could explain, however, Trump's desperation to staunch the leaks from his avowed foe, America's intelligence community.