December 13, 2018 / 2:49 PM / 6 months ago

Top Democratic lawmakers seek probe into Deutsche Bank controls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two top Democratic U.S. senators called on Thursday for the Senate to open an investigation into Germany’s Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) over its compliance with U.S. anti-money laundering and bank secrecy laws.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Deutsche Bank is pictured in Frankfurt, Germany, March 19, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Chris Van Hollen said in a statement that they had written to the chair of the Senate Banking Committee asking for the probe in light of investigations into the bank by European authorities that called into question its compliance controls.

A spokeswoman for Mike Crapo, the Republican chair of the Senate Banking committee who has the power to approve a probe, declined to comment.

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank said the bank takes its legal obligations seriously and is prepared to cooperate with any official investigations.

Thursday’s request adds pressure to the bank, which is already facing police probes in Germany and likely is to face official congressional scrutiny in the United States when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January.

Police raided six Deutsche Bank offices in and around Frankfurt last month over money laundering allegations linked to the “Panama Papers.” Investigators are looking into the activities of two unnamed Deutsche Bank employees alleged to have helped clients set up offshore firms to launder money, the prosecutor’s office said at the time.

Deutsche Bank said at the time of the raids that it would cooperate closely with the Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office, adding it believed it had already provided all the relevant information related to the “Panama Papers”.

“Given the Committee’s jurisdiction over banking regulatory enforcement, Deutsche Bank’s history of regulatory problems, and the recent allegations of money laundering that resulted in the recent raid conducted by German law enforcement, we request that the Banking Committee undertake an investigation into Deutsche Bank and its compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) regulations,” Warren and Van Hollen wrote to Crapo.

Specifically, the pair said they were particularly concerned about Deutsche Bank’s role in correspondent banking, worrying that its relationships with other foreign banks could aid in money laundering or evading U.S. sanctions.

Beyond those concerns, Democrats have also targeted the bank for its business dealings with President Donald Trump. Representative Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, has attempted to subpoena documents from the bank detailing its accounts with Trump and his businesses, as well as information about potential Russian money laundering through the bank.

Republicans in charge of the committee ignored those document demands, but Waters is set to take control of the committee in January and will have power to issue those subpoenas herself if she chooses.

Reporting by Michelle Price and Pete Schroeder; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Jonathan Oatis and Frances Kerry

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