Exclusive: Deutsche Bank says privacy laws prevent Trump financial disclosures

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deutsche Bank AG is not allowed to share information it may have about President Donald Trump’s finances and his possible ties to Russia despite a request from U.S. lawmakers, the German lender told Congress on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Germany's Deutsche Bank are seen early evening in Frankfurt, Germany January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

In a letter to five House Democrats, Germany’s largest bank said it was barred from sharing information about Trump’s finances due to U.S. privacy laws.

“We hope that you will understand Deutsche Bank’s need to respect the boundaries that Congress and the courts have set in an effort to protect confidential information,” lawyers for the bank from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld wrote in the letter.

Deutsche’s correspondence follows a May 23 request from Maxine Waters, ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, and four peers, requesting information about the Republican president.

Waters’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In May, the lawmakers asked Deutsche Bank to share what it might know about Trump’s real-estate business and whether the president had financial backing from Russia.

The lawmakers initially gave Deutsche Bank until June 2 to respond, but the German lender requested more time.

Public records show that Deutsche Bank loaned Trump millions of dollars for real-estate ventures.

The Democrats do not have the power to compel Deutsche Bank to comply. The Financial Services Committee has subpoena power, but Republican committee members, who make up the majority of the panel, would have to cooperate.

No Republicans signed the letter.

The bank responded on a day when Washington was consumed with testimony by James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who appeared before a Senate panel on Thursday and accused Trump of firing him to undermine an investigation into possible collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign team and Russia. [L1N1J50C1]

Moscow has denied the allegations of election meddling. Trump has denied any collusion.

The congressional Democrats also sought information about a Russian “mirror trading” scheme that allowed $10 billion to flow out of Russia.

In January, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $630 million in fines over the scheme, which could have been used to launder money out of Russia.

The trades involved, for example, buying Russian stocks in roubles for a client and selling the identical value of a security for U.S. dollars for a related customer.

Deutsche Bank provided the Democrats copies of settlements regarding the trades.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York and Patrick Rucker in Washington; Additional reporting by Tom Sims in Frankfurt; Writing by Lauren Tara LaCapra; Editing by Leslie Adler