US President Donald Trump’s administration waived criminal sanctions on five banks Wednesday, including one financial institution where the real estate magnate and reality TV star has at least $300 million in outstanding loan obligations.
Units within Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays Capital, UBS Asset Management and Citigroup have been convicted in recent years for manipulating the London Interbank Offer Rate (LIBOR), a benchmark interest rate banks use for lending to one another on London’s interbank market. Collectively, the firms have paid billions in fines to regulators in the United Kingdom and the US.
The Trump administration granted waivers to all five banks allowing them to manage retirement funds. Without these permission slips, the units would have had to effectively be shut down, the Wall Street Journal notes.
Trump himself has more than $300 million in outstanding loans with Deutsche Bank, raising questions about whether the president’s personal interests might have interfered with his job to act on behalf of the public interest.
“The relief allows each of the firms to continue managing pension plans and individual-retirement accounts, a significant source of business for each of the firms,” WSJ noted.
US laws protect retirement savings from being managed by firms convicted of securities regulations violations. The Department of Labor, though, can exempt firms from this rule by designating firms “qualified professional asset managers.” Trump’s Department of Labor provided these exact exemptions, as did the department under former President Barack Obama.
In the final days of the Obama administration, the Labor Department granted all five institutions one year of relief from rules restricting asset management activities and proposed five-year reprieves. “It’s been pretty clear for some years now that the Democrats have deep contacts with the big banks,” economist Jack Rasmus told Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear on Thursday.
The Trump administration granted five-year waivers to Barclays Capital, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank while giving UBS Asset Management and Deutsche Bank waivers lasting three years.
The shorter waivers for UBS and Deutsche came as a result of the companies having been convicted of more egregious criminal violations. “Any insinuation of special treatment is counter to these facts,” Jeffrey Grappone, spokesman for the Labor Department, told the Associated Press.
In late 2016, Trump promised, “I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder.”
While Trump is often described as being close with Wall Street, data from the Center for Responsive Politics indicate hedge funds and private equity firms gave more cash to 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton than to Trump. People in those sectors supported Clinton with more than $56 million while contributing about $243,000 to Trump, according to CRP data.
Deutsche Bank’s shady history includes accusations that the firm had “serious AML (anti-money laundering), terrorist financing and sanctions failings which were systemic in nature,” the Financial Conduct Authority, a UK financial watchdog, said in 2016. Rasmus confirmed to Sputnik News that Deutsche Bank is “notorious” for its involvement in money laundering schemes.