Moby Don: Trump's fraud-trial 'victim' Deutsche Bank praised him as a lucrative 'whale' in fawning in-house documents

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  • It's the third week of defense testimony at the Trump civil-fraud trial in Manhattan.

  • Reps from Deutsche Bank, which NY says was defrauded, described prospering thanks to Trump.

  • On Wednesday, internal documents showed the bankers practically swooning over Trump's billions.

Deutsche Bank executives practically swooned over Donald Trump's real-estate fortune, according to internal documents made public by the defense in his New York civil-fraud trial.

Trump was seen as a wealthy, fiscally responsible "whale" who could open doors to his own billions and those of his "network" of fellow moguls, the documents disclosed.

The internal emails and briefings, many more than a decade old, were shown on large screens in the Manhattan courtroom to bolster the defense claim that Deutsche Bank was once among the former president's most well-rewarded stans instead of his fraud victim, as state officials allege.

Trump's lawyers have repeatedly argued that there is no victim in this case.

"We are whale hunting," the former Deutsche Bank executive Rosemary Vrablic told her fellow bankers of Trump in an email from 2011, soon after Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner offered to make an introduction.

Whale hunting?

"It's a term used when there is a very high net-worth individual who is a prospective client," Vrablic explained in a crisp voice on Tuesday after she was called to the witness stand by Trump's lawyers.

The bankers sometimes called their whale "The Donald," testimony showed.

This endearment was apparently used just among themselves in internal emails during the heady early days of the Trump-Deutsche Bank relationship when the bank eagerly loaned the soon-to-be president more than $400 million.

It was money Trump used to develop his Miami golf resort, his Chicago skyscraper, and the Old Post Office in Washington, DC, projects that burnished his reputation as a billionaire developer and helped propel him to the White House.

"Given the circles this family travels in, we expect to be introduced to the wealthiest people on the planet,"' Vrablic rather breathlessly emailed her colleagues just 10 months into the banking relationship.

"The Chicago condos are selling like hotcakes," Vrablic said in an email to her fellow bankers two years later, displaying far more enthusiasm than on the stand Tuesday, when she dryly translated "hotcakes."

That particular term meant "at a faster pace than we had expected," she testified, under direct examination by the Trump attorney Jesus Suarez.

The Chicago skyline at night, showing Trump International Hotel & Tower.
The Chicago skyline, showing the Trump International Hotel & Tower.AP/Nam Y. Huh

Trump defrauded Deutsche Bank out of more than $100 million, the AG says

The former president has been on trial in the civil case for nine weeks now, as has his company, the Trump Organization, and five long-standing executives, including his two eldest sons.

The defendants have not routinely attended the trial, though they have cycled in and out of the courtroom as spectators and witnesses. Trump was compelled to testify last month under a state subpoena; he is scheduled to testify again as the final defense witness on December 11.

The judge presiding over the nonjury trial, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, has already ruled that a decade's worth of Trump's annual net-worth statements were fraudulent, finding that he exaggerated the value of his assets by at least $2 billion a year.

State Attorney General Letitia James investigated Trump for three years before filing her fraud suit last year. She contends that Deutsche Bank was defrauded out of more than $100 million in interest income. This is interest, the state says, that the bank could have charged, using its own formulas, had Trump been truthful about his worth.

This $100 million is part of more than $250 million the state is asking at trial for Trump to be ordered to pay back.

Before retiring in 2020, Vrablic was the most hands-on banker dealing with Trump and his eldest children. Within a year of Kushner's introduction, Trump had moved $20 million in personal deposits to the bank, and Donald Trump, Jr., had also become a client, according to a Vrablic email shown in court Tuesday.

"Ivanka Trump will become a client for sure," Vrablic wrote her fellow bankers in the email from late 2011, adding, "She is the heir apparent of this empire."

An attempt to turn 'victims' into allies, one banker at a time

Vrablic was the third current or former Deutsche Bank executive called to the witness stand by the defense this week.

The defense is trying to use Deutsche Bank's own executives to prove that they were not defrauded by Trump.

The defense has argued that as a sophisticated international lender, the bank did its own risk analysis, apart from Trump's net-worth statements. The defense has also argued that the bank walked away with more than $100 million in interest profits by the time Trump, who never missed a payment, paid off his final loan last month.

But the state has countered that any fact-checking, any profit-making, and any other non-victim-like behavior on the part of Deutsche Bank is beside the point.

The real point, as lead state's attorney Kevin Wallace argued Tuesday, is that you can't lie to a bank in financial documents.

Testimony in the defense case continues Thursday.

Read the original article on Business Insider