Donald Trump came under fire last week for his financial ties to overseas investors, including controversial financiers and corporations, whose interests might not align with US foreign policy. But if elected president, Trump would face a tremendous conflict of interest regarding the hundreds of millions of dollars he owes Deutsche Bank, which is now in the crosshairs of US regulators.
The US government has charged that the German banking giant misled investors into buying bad mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, and it is demanding that Deutsche Bank pay $14 billion to settle legal claims. The bank is reported to have planned for a settlement of $2 to $3 billion, and negotiations between it and the Department of Justice are likely to be contentious and last months—possibly well into the next administration. Should Trump take the White House, what Deutsche Bank ends up paying for its alleged misdeeds might depend on how tough Trump's Justice Department will be with the bank he owes so much money.
The conflict of interest in this possible scenario is obvious. His administration would have to render a decision greatly affecting a foreign commercial interest holding substantial leverage over Trump. A President Trump would have a strong disincentive to apply pressure on Deutsche Bank and risk souring his relationship with the institution on which he is so dependent. And would he want to tick off this lender? If Trump and his company ever were to have trouble repaying his Deutsche Bank loans, he would be at the bank's mercy.