NBC News investigation into the company that refinanced Trump Tower reveals plenty of oddities
Trump Tower’s $100 million mortgage has been the subject of much speculation after Trump launched a coup against the US government that left people dead in the United States Capitol building, with innocent souls wondering if Trump might ever find a bank sordid enough to work with a seditionist. Things looked even bleaker when, earlier this year, Donald Trump’s longtime auditors severed all ties with Trump and announced they were no longer respecting the organization’s 10-year financials. Trump – the way Wall Street was announcing that they had found something so sketchy that they absolutely don’t want any part of it, whether Trump’s checks cleared or not, and they don’t intend to go to jail for it.
But the Trump Tower mortgage, ultimately, was no problem for Trump. Just days after Trump’s auditors released him and announced that his company’s financials were, screaming between the lines, “extremely susceptible to twisting,” Trump Tower secured a $100 million refinance. dollars with Axos, a small bank previously known as the “Bank of Internet USA” and currently run by a former Indymac executive who migrated to the company just before the Wall Street debacle of 2008.
Okay, okay it’s a little weird that the Trump Tower mortgage was taken out by a bank with an internet presence but no actual branches, one run by an executive who managed to land on its feet despite the collapse of its previous institution, but cratering so spectacularly that its failures will be a permanent mention in new textbooks of United States history. But what we can probably glean from this is that none of the banks Trump had previous dealings with wanted to do business with him despite the pile of cash at stake, while the new company thought he was still worth what additional risk.
But the NBC News investigation also revealed other weird things at play here. Things that all seem a bit sketchy to us laymen, but also can plausibly be how everything on Wall Street tends to go these days – at least that’s how the company tries to sell it.
Strange things ranging from, for example, two ex-employees suing the company after they were fired for reporting sketchy behavior ranging from allegedly covering up trouble with weak loans…
…to offer “cash recapture” type loans that could facilitate international money laundering…
…to partner with other companies to offer small businesses the equivalent of “payday loans“, loans that escape the usual regulations limiting the amount of interest these companies can charge.
Which, okay, sounds a little weird! The “hiding problems with weak loans” part is straight out of the 2008 financial crisis, but I guess none of us really expect banks to be do not dive back into breaking the economy behaviors that get the breakers big bonuses before it all goes to hell.
It’s a little odd that the company has been accused of making things too easy for money launderers, given that Trump Tower and Trump’s other real estate ventures have been considered money laundering hubs for decades. Russian money. But then again, real estate laws have been very carefully crafted to facilitate money laundering, so can we still consider this “weird”? Or is it just business as usual?
And the last one, the imposition of grotesque interest rates through loopholes in laws prohibiting such things, which NBC calls a so-called “bank leasing program,” is a bit weird only because it turns out that it was the Trump administration that put in place the rule allowing it, and it’s already being rolled back by the Biden administration for being blatantly sketchy. So, uh, extra points for them for managing to cash in on a short-lived rule change that was pretty much destined to be pulled the second a non-summary administration took charge. I guess.
But it doesn’t even stop there. NBC News also notes that the company has a history of suing anonymous bloggers who draw attention to their quirkiness, and that the company’s head responded to a listener’s whistleblowing by suing him. and the listener’s mother for taking “confidential” information, which, okay, getting the guy’s mother in definitely ranks top of the old weird-o-meter financial company but in a world with Elon Musk, Peter Lawsuitguy, and a man who hand-stuffs each of his famous shitty pillows with conspiracy theories promoting sedition he barely rates. We just have to live knowing that our wealthy bettors are super, super not happy with our common opinions these days.
The question NBC News raises with all of this is what are we outsiders supposed to do with all of this? Donald Trump had his bacon saved days after his company’s auditing firm publicly told the world that there was something extremely sketchy going on with his accounting, and a look at the low-key firm that bailed him out suggests both that he is a company that specializes in loans that are a bit sketchy and has former employees who claim they were fired for reporting the sketch, making it sound like the company went to prep school with Eric Trump or something.
Incidentally, the company’s defense against accusations by former employees that it is too permissive with potential money laundering behavior is an assertion to NBC News that these loans are subject to “full investigation on knowing your client” before approval, which… okay. Of course, that would be responsible behavior. It’s hard to imagine a company staying in business for very long if it doesn’t do such things.
I don’t know how a company like this could miss such a big red flag that “a few days before this document was signed, the company we loaned to was fired by its own auditors for up to ‘ten years of misleading financial information or fraudulent statements’, but none of us here are bankers, and we don’t know how that works. weird.
It’ll be even weirder if a company that used to be called “Bank of the Internet” ends up seizing Trump Tower if and when Donald Trump’s finances collapse again, but we’re also not going to put odds on that one.