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Deutsche Bank, Fearing Default, Weighed Extending Trump Loans: Report

Gavin Finch

Top Deutsche Bank AG executives were so concerned after the 2016 U.S. election that the Trump Organization might default on about $340 million of loans while Donald Trump was in office that they discussed extending repayment dates until after the end of a potential second term in 2025, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

Members of the bank’s management board, including then Chief Executive Officer John Cryan, were leery of the public relations disaster they would face if they went after the assets of a sitting president, said the people, who asked for anonymity because the discussions were private. The discussions were about risks to the bank’s reputation and did not relate to any heightened concerns about the creditworthiness of Trump or his company, the people said.

The bank ultimately decided against restructuring the loans to the Trump Organization, which come due in 2023 and 2024, and chose instead not to do any new business with Trump while he is president, one of the people said.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment, and the people with knowledge of the discussions said they didn’t know why the bank ultimately decided not to extend the loans. The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“This story is complete nonsense,” Eric Trump, a son of the president and an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in an email. “We are one of the most under-leveraged real estate companies in the country. Virtually all of our assets are owned free and clear, and the very few that do have mortgages are a small fraction relative to the value of the asset. These are traditional loans, no different than any other real estate developer would carry as part of a comparable portfolio.”

Go-To Lender

Deutsche Bank had been Trump’s go-to lender for decades, even as other commercial banks stopped doing business with him because of multiple bankruptcies. Although the German lender’s investment bank had severed ties with Trump during the financial crisis, after he defaulted on a loan and then sued the bank, its wealth management unit continued to extend him credit.

But, as the New York Times first reported, Deutsche Bank had already turned down a request for a loan from the Trump Organization for work on a Scottish golf course in early 2016, during the campaign, in part because of concern that it might have to collect from a sitting president.

The head of the retail bank at the time, which includes the wealth management unit, was Christian Sewing, who replaced Cryan as CEO in April. Sewing initially favored approving the loan application, but he submitted it to Deutsche Bank’s reputational risk committee, which recommended turning it down, according to a person familiar with the matter. Sewing supported the decision, the person said. The Trump Organization said it never sought such a loan.

The outstanding Deutsche Bank debt includes $125 million for the Trump National Doral Miami resort, which matures in 2023, according to federal records and mortgage documents. The company also owes $170 million for the Trump International Hotel in Washington and has another loan against a Chicago tower, both of which come due in 2024.

Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank are facing heightened scrutiny now that Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives and two party members — Maxine Waters and Adam Schiff — are sitting at the top of powerful committees.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have already described in detail what they want from Deutsche Bank. In a March report, they said they would seek to interview senior executives in the bank’s risk division who could tell them about due diligence conducted on Trump after the 2016 election. They also want documents about the bank’s earlier transactions with Trump and would like to interview his personal banker, Rosemary Vrablic.

In the four years before his election, Trump borrowed more than $620 million from Deutsche Bank and a separate lender, Ladder Capital, to finance projects in Manhattan, Chicago, Washington and a Miami suburb, federal documents and property records show. Jack Weisselberg, a top loan-origination executive at Ladder, is the son of Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer who previously worked for Donald Trump’s father, Fred. Ladder loaned Trump $282 million for four Manhattan properties, records show. Jack Weisselberg declined to comment.

The loans are split between variable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages. Some are interest-only loans, with balloon payments due at maturity, according to property records and securities filings.

The maturities on Trump’s Deutsche Bank loans haven’t changed since his preelection financial disclosure, filings show. Government-run databases containing local property filings for New York, Washington, Chicago and Miami-Dade County don’t show any changes in the terms of Trump’s mortgages.