Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York in a $250 million civil lawsuit that could alter the personal fortune and real estate empire that helped propel Trump to the White House.
Trump, his sons Eric Trump and and Donald Trump Jr., and other top Trump Organization executives are accused by New York Attorney General Letitia James of engaging in a decade-long scheme in which they used "numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation" to inflate Trump's net worth in order get more favorable loan terms. The trial comes after the judge in the case ruled in a partial summary judgment that Trump had submitted "fraudulent valuations" for his assets, leaving the trial to determine additional actions and what penalty, if any, the defendants should receive.
The former president has denied all wrongdoing and his attorneys have argued that Trump's alleged inflated valuations were a product of his business skill.
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Deutsche Bank expected Trump to value assets fairly, banker says
Former Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic testified on cross-examination by state attorneys that Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. secured private financing using recourse -- meaning they were personally liable for the loan.
"Sorry about the recourse issue -- a dirty word, I know -- but it is a requirement in private banking," Vrablic wrote in a 2011 introductory email to Donald Trump Jr.
Vrablic confirmed that each of the Trumps she worked with -- Donald, Ivanka, and Donald Trump Jr. -- used a personal guaranty to secure better financing terms.
"It gives the flexibility to be creative on some solutions because the person is standing behind it," Vrablic testified.
State attorney Kevin Wallace appeared to focus on the personal guaranty during the cross-examination, with the discussion bringing the focus back on the representation of the value of Trump's assets.
While Vrablic confirmed that she never personally reviewed Donald Trump's statement of financial condition, she said the bank still expected it was accurate.
"You would have had an expectation that a borrower like Mr. Trump would present their financial information fairly?" Wallace asked.
"Yes," Vrablic replied.
Deutsche Bank made money from Trump, defense emphasizes
Defense attorney Jesus Suarez, in his direct examination of Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic, emphasized that Deutsche Bank was eager for Trump's business and made money from the loans they offered him.
"Your family is in the top 10 revenue generating names of Asset and Wealth Management now and he is thrilled with how it's grown," Vrablic wrote in a 2014 email to Ivanka Trump, referring to Vrablic's boss at Deutsche Bank.
That same year, Vrablic estimated that the bank made more than $6.8 million in fees from the Trump Organization.
Vrablic described her role as an intermediary between lenders at the bank and Ivanka Trump, both hunting for deals within the bank and courting the Trumps for increased business.
"Existing customers are the best source of additional customers," Vrablic said about importance of Trump's business, given his connections in real estate and his wealthy family.
Bank was concerned DC hotel deal could publicize loan terms
Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic expressed concern about the public nature of Donald Trump's 2012 acquisition of the Old Post Office building in Washington, D.C., fearing the deal might publicize the favorable loan terms offered by the bank, according to evidence presented at trial.
"Will our terms and conditions with you be made public? Not a credit issue, but we want to be prepared if 'other clients' see it and ask for the same deal," Vrablic wrote in a 2013 email shown at trial.
The Trump Organization won the bidding process with the federal government in 2012 for the property, and Deutsche Bank loaned the firm the money for the renovation of the decrepit building.
"We won! We're very very excited!" Ivanka Trump wrote in a 2012 email to Vrablic.
Vrablic, concerned about the loan terms being publicized, said, "We would not talk about that," regarding the importance of keeping the terms private from other high-net-worth clients.
Vrablic could not recall how the loan term details were protected, but she confirmed that Deutsche Bank made $3.3 million from their loan to the Trump Organization related to the property.
Scrutiny over Trump's presidency prompted bank to halt relationship
Deutsche Bank decided to stop doing new business with Donald Trump due to the "increased exposure" and "scrutiny" related to his being elected president, according to testimony from Deutsche Bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic.
"It was an unprecedented situation to have a customer who was going to become president of the United States," Vrablic said.
By the time Trump was elected, the bank had made three profitable loans to Trump, making a projected $6.8 million in revenue from Trump in 2014. Vrablic confirmed that by July 2015, Trump had $31 million in cash deposits with the bank, and his associated entities stored $86 million in cash deposits.
However, the scrutiny of Trump's presidency prompted the bank to decide not to increase its exposure, including declining to offer Trump a loan for his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland.
"He was president of the United States -- going to become president of the United States -- and the bank's position was they did not want to increase its exposure at that time," Vrablic testified.
McConney says he corrected inflated value of Ivanka's apartment
The Trump Organization's longtime controller testified that he overvalued Ivanka Trump's apartment in her father's statement of financial condition before correcting the mistake after it was flagged.
New York Attorney General Letitia James alleges that a penthouse apartment rented by Ivanka Trump was valued in Donald Trump's financial statement at $45 million in 2014 and 2015, despite the apartment's rental agreement including an option to purchase the apartment for $14 million.
From 2016 onward, the value of the penthouse in Trump's statements dropped back down the actual buyout price of $14 million, "per rental agreement."
Asked about the change during his testimony today, McConney acknowledged the correction, claiming he did not know about the provision in the rental agreement.
McConney said that once outside accountant Donald Bender of Mazars USA flagged the issue, he promptly made the change in Trump's financial statement.
McConney concluded his testimony for the day and is set to return to the witness stand Tuesday morning.