Deutsche Bank eagerly pursued former President Trump as a “whale” of a client more than a decade ago, and their partnership became mutually beneficial over the years, according to documents introduced by Trump’s legal team Wednesday during his ongoing fraud trial.
Trump’s counsel introduced emails from 2011 between then-bank managing director Rosemary Vrablic and colleagues, in which Vrablic expressed significant interest in working with the Trumps.
“We are whale hunting,” she wrote after meeting Donald Trump Jr., before she had met his father. The bankers used “whale” to refer to very wealthy clients, she testified Wednesday.
Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank is a core component of New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit against the former president, his business and several executives — including his adult sons. The state claims the Trump Organization falsely inflated and deflated the value of its assets on key financial statements to receive lower taxes and better insurance coverage, deceiving lenders and insurers in the process.
As part of its defense, Trump’s counsel has attempted to show that bankers were excited to work with the former president’s business and that there was “no victim” of its business dealings. According to a bank document prepared for Deutsche Bank’s then-co-chairman in 2013, shown as evidence at trial, the bank’s revenue from its business with Trump skyrocketed from around $13,000 in 2011 to a projected $6 million in 2013.
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Trump testified earlier this month that his statements of financial condition — documents at the heart of the case that detail the value of his business’s various assets and were used to secure loans and deals — were “not really documents that the banks paid much attention to.”
“I’ve been dealing with banks for 50 years and probably know banks as well as anybody,” Trump said on the witness stand earlier this month. “I know what they look at. They look at the deal.”
But the attorney general’s office claims the government was nonetheless misled and banks were shortchanged millions of dollars. Earlier in the trial, an expert witness hired by the state testified that the Trump Organization’s skewed financial statements may have cost banks more than $168 million in interest.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already found Trump and his business liable for fraud. The trial is addressing other claims, including conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records.
Four Deutsche Bank executives are expected to testify this week in the defense case, which is set to span until mid-December, when Trump plans to retake the stand as the defense’s last witness.
The Associated Press contributed.