AFP news agency / YouTube Russian strongman appears as quot Superputin...
AFP news agency / YouTube

Following the Trump-Russia money trail is indeed a fascinating journey and that’s what Robert Mueller is doing. The race on this particular yellow brick road has pit stops at the Kremlin, Germany, and the White House. Mueller assembled an expert team skilled in financial investigations and white collar crime. Mueller is expected to file a superseding indictment on Paul Manafort which would charge crimes not handled in the original indictment, and that potential was alluded to in the original indictment. Daily Beast:

A superseding indictment would essentially replace the current indictment of Manafort. And in that current indictment, Mueller’s team hinted there was more to come. In particular, they hinted at potential tax charges for Manafort’s foreign financial transactions. Federal prosecutors can bring charges against any American who has money in a foreign bank account and doesn’t check a box on their tax forms disclosing it. The Manafort/Gates indictment describes financial behavior that may be liable for that kind of prosecution. And that’s an indicator that Mueller’s team may be preparing to formally charge both men with violating tax laws.

“Superseding indictments are frequently brought in financial investigations due to defendant recalcitrance to cooperate and also because they take so long to be put together,” said Martin Sheil, a retired supervisory special agent for the IRS’ criminal investigations unit.

Deutsch Bank is the crossroads where the Kremlin and the White House intersect. The German bank’s lawyers even admitted to taking bribes from the Kremlin so that they could effect a money laundering scheme, moving $10Billion to the United States. Deutsch Bank is so hot it’s radioactive.

The German mega-bank is likely accustomed to hot water. In January of 2017, they agreed to pay $425 million to the New York Department of Financial Services to settle allegations that they let Russian traders engage in what those regulators called “a money-laundering scheme.” In that particular scheme, Russians moved $10 billion to the United States.

It’s an eye-popping concession, but one that largely got lost in the noise of Trump’s inauguration and the political implications of Russian efforts to intervene in the 2016 elections. But it points to close ties between the bank and Kremlin elites. The bank’s lawyers signed court documents admitting they were “on clear notice” about their insufficient safeguards against unlawful activity (PDF)—while the multibillion-dollar scheme was unfolding. In fact, those lawyers admitted their traders in Moscow went “to significant lengths” to make the scheme work. They even admitted that one of their Moscow supervisors appeared to have taken bribes related to the scheme that were worth up to $2.3 million. It was underway from 2011 to early 2015.

And of course Deutsch Bank has done a lot of business with various high profile Republicans, including Robert Mercer, Jared Kushner and the Chief Putin Puppet himself. 

Jared Kushner and Trump himself have had significant dealings with the bank, which also helped the hedge fund of billionaire Trump patron Robert Mercer trim billions from its tax bill. The bank has long interested congressional investigators looking into potential connections between Trump World and the Kremlin. And if reports about Mueller’s subpoena of the bank are correct—and the White House says emphatically that they are not—then Mueller’s money trail may be making a pit stop in Germany.

Legal scholar Johnathan Turley said, “The Manafort and Gates indictment left a number of torpedoes in the water. We’re just waiting to see who they hit.” Right now the White House is on silent running mode and they’ll probably stay that way while they sweat. As the Daily Beast said, “If 2017 had the president’s inner circle sweating, 2018 could feel like a sauna.” The sharks are circling and we’re in for a heat wave. Stay tuned.

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