Deutsche Bank Actively Sought Out Trump’s Business, Former Managing Director Testifies in NY Civil Trial
Deutsche Bank Actively Sought Out Trump’s Business, Former Managing Director Testifies in NY Civil Trial

By Michael Washburn

NEW YORK—The civil fraud trial of former President Donald Trump ground onward Wednesday as defense witness Rosemary Vrablic, a former managing director of Deutsche Bank, explained how, under direct orders from her superiors, she actively sought to expand the global bank’s business relations with the Trump Organization and give it a central role in his ambitious real estate ventures.

Throughout the trial, the government lawyers have sought to depict President Trump—along with his sons and daughter, who are not defendants but have testified at length—as real estate grifters who exaggerated the value of Trump’s assets in the hope of securing better terms for bank loans and insurance policies.

In her Wednesday direct examination, Ms. Vrablic described how her superiors at Deutsche Bank repeatedly encouraged her to woo the Trump family and court their business—not the other way around. Her statements affirm the general gist of the former president’s testimony on the stand earlier this month and that of Eric, Donald Jr., and Ivanka Trump. Often cited during the direct examination were emails from her superiors requesting that she take steps to bring Mr. Trump and his organization closer into the Deutsche Bank fold and treat members of the organization as VIPs.

Ms. Vrablic also denied any false or disingenuous content in the various statements presented to the bank as part of the loan application process for the purchase or refurbishment of such properties as the Doral Golf Club outside Miami, the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York, and the Old Post Office in Chicago.

According to Ms. Vrablic, her tenure as Deutsche Bank ran from 2006 to 2020, and she came to assume an important role within Private Wealth Management, a division of the bank catering to high-net-worth individuals.

“I was an intermediary between the customer and the credit and lending parts of the bank. Donald Trump was a customer of the bank,” she said.

A Burgeoning Relationship

The Trump Organization and its representatives did play a proactive role in reaching out to Deutsche Bank in connection with various financings, Ms. Vrablic acknowledged, recalling an interaction she had with Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

“I received a phone call from Jared Kushner saying that the Trump Organization was bidding in an auction for a piece of property in Florida and they might need financing,” she recalled.

The piece of property Ms. Vrablic referred to was what became the Doral Golf Club located near Miami International Airport. Ms. Vrablic played a role in the negotiation of a loan for that asset, as well as the Trump International Hotel and Tower and the Old Post Office.

Ms. Vrablic said there was no question at the time that Mr. Trump met the qualifications for financing arranged through her unit at Deutsche Bank. Mr. Trump’s net worth easily exceeded $100 million and he qualified as a high-net-worth individual.

The questions then addressed internal communications at Deutsche Bank, between Ms. Vrablic and Richard Byrne, the real estate private banker handling Trump-related matters, as well as between Ms. Vrablic and the then-CEO and chairman of Deutsche Bank, Anshu Jain.

Ms. Vrablic gave assurances to Mr. Byrne about the strength of Mr. Trump assets, namely condo units in the New York hotel that she said in one email were “selling like hotcakes.” When asked about the nature and purpose of this communication, Ms. Vrablic described the market’s desire for these assets as an obvious factor in the bank’s assessments of Mr. Trump’s net worth and credit risk.

On the heels of her positive assessments, Ms. Vrablic received instructions to help coordinate an in-person lunch meeting between Mr. Jain and Mr. Trump. When asked whether the meeting had a business objective in mind, Ms. Vrablic answered, “Nothing specific,” adding that she periodically received calls to coordinate meetings between the bank’s CEO and “prospects,” or potential clients.

Ms. Vrablic said that the lunch between her boss and Donald Trump was highly genial and a success overall.

“The meeting went very well, they got along and it was a very nice, productive lunch.”

This marked a turning point in the bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump and his organization.

Anshu Jain (R) and Juergen Fitschen, co-CEOs of Germany’s biggest bank Deutsche Bank, pose before addressing a news conference, in Frankfurt, on Sept. 11, 2015. (DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/GettyImages)

Ms. Vrablic also acknowledged an email she wrote to Ivanka Trump on Aug. 7, 2014, in which she called Donald Trump one of the top ten revenue-generating names with whom the bank did business and said that she and her colleagues were “thrilled” at how the relationship was going.

Though she did not state it in quite as many words, Ms. Vrablic’s testimony was obviously intended to illustrate that Deutsche Bank actively courted the Trump Organization’s business, a step that the bank would not have taken if it did not consider Mr. Trump’s net worth or credit worthiness to fall below its minimum expectations.

Ms. Vrablic’s testimony reinforced arguments that President Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, has made throughout the trial: namely that, with his vast wealth, Mr. Trump could have sought financing from any number of global financial institutions. Deutsche Bank went out of its way to compete for Mr. Trump’s business, and the bank itself has never claimed any fraudulent representations or malfeasance on the part of its client. Such claims have come from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is not a realtor or banker, and who—as a Democrat—has an obvious reason to try to kneecap the current front-runner for the GOP’s 2024 nomination for president.

During a brief cross-examination, the government side asked Ms. Vrablic about some $2 million of debt attached to the Trump Organization’s real estate, which was acknowledged on certain documents and records that crossed her desk while at Deutsche Bank.

The trial resumes on Thursday with further direct examination of defense witnesses. Eric Trump is expected to take the stand on Dec. 6, and his father on Dec. 11.

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