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Erin Arvedlund: 'Dark Towers' shines light on Deutsche Bank — financier of Trump, Kushner, and Russian oligarchs

Erin Arvedlund, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

The juiciest parts of the new book Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction pick up where the last scandal involving the bank left off -- manipulating interest rates amid the 2008 financial crisis. This isn't just an expose of a massive global bank. It's also the tragic story of a senior Deutsche executive, Bill Broeksmit, who served as the conscience of the bank over many years. In January 2014, he died by suicide.

In the aftermath, the author worked with Broeksmit's son, Val, to understand why his father did what he did. Val discovered that his father's personal email accounts were chock full of official Deutsche Bank documents.

What's left to be said about a bank that has admitted to enabling the Nazi regime, and also participated in the Libor interest rate scandal? Plenty.

In 2014, Deutsche Bank senior executive Broeksmit was found dead in his London apartment. Broeksmit had helped build the 150-year-old financial institution into a colossus, and his sudden death was a mystery compounded by the bank's efforts to squelch any investigation.

In Dark Towers, published on Feb. 18 and recently excerpted in the New York Times Magazine, author David Enrich reveals Deutsche Bank's epic rise from a provincial German bank to a global superpower, and its fall into financial ruin and scandal.

Initially, the book traces the bank's history financing the construction of Auschwitz, and wooing Eastern Bloc dictators during Soviet times. He then writes about how in the 1990s, under a succession of hard-charging executives, Deutsche made a fateful decision to leave behind its conservative German roots and pursue Wall Street profits. In short order, Deutsche's leaders took the bank public, manipulated markets, violated international sanctions to aid terrorist regimes, scammed investors, evaded regulators, and laundered money for Russian oligarchs.


Keen for an American foothold, Deutsche also started doing business with a self-promoting real estate magnate nearly every other bank deemed too risky to finance: Donald Trump.

Over the next two decades, Deutsche loaned billions of dollars to Trump, the Kushner family, and an array of scandal-tarred clients, including convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. If you're looking for a jaw-dropping financial thriller, look no further than Dark Towers, particularly as Trump fights subpoenas on Deutsche Bank releasing his taxes and other financial records.

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