Bank staff flagged Trump, Kushner transactions for watchdog: NYTimes

Bank staff flagged Trump, Kushner transactions for watchdog: NYTimes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank AG recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving entities controlled by President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump passes his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner during a Hanukkah Reception at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The newspaper, citing five current and former Deutsche Bank employees, said executives at the German-based bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice and the reports were never filed with the government.

The Times said the transactions, some of which involved Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to the former bank employees.

Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes, according to the newspaper.

Deutsche Bank denied the report.

“At no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious,” the bank said in a statement.

“Furthermore, the suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false.”

Deutsche Bank shares were down 1.5% in pre-market trade in Frankfurt.

The Times reported the bank employees viewed the decision not to report the transactions as a result of a lax approach to money laundering laws. They said there was a pattern of bank executives rejecting reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients, according to the newspaper.

One employee who reviewed some of the transactions said she was terminated last year after raising concerns about the bank’s practices, the Times reported.

The Times quoted a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman as saying investigators were not prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious. The spokeswoman described as “categorically false” any suggestion that bank staff were reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns related to any client. She also said Deutsche Bank has intensified efforts to combat financial crime.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization told Reuters “the story is absolute nonsense.” “We have no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank. In fact, we have no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank,” she said.

The newspaper said a Kushner Companies spokeswoman called any allegations of relationships involving money laundering “made up and totally false.”

Officials at Deutsche Bank and Kushner Companies were not immediately available to Reuters for independent comment.

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The Times said the nature of the transactions was not clear. At least some of them involved money flowing back and forth with overseas entities or individuals, which bank employees considered suspicious.

The report surfaces at a time when congressional and New York state authorities are investigating the relationship between Trump, his family and Deutsche Bank, and demanding documents related to any suspicious activity.

Trump has sued in court in an attempt to block U.S. House of Representatives subpoenas for his financial records that were sent to Deutsche Bank, Capital One Financial Corp and the accounting firm Mazars LLP.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Clarence Fernandez

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Trump says Beijing ‘broke’ trade talk deals, pledges to keep tariffs on Chinese goods

Trump says Beijing 'broke' trade talk deals, pledges to keep tariffs on Chinese goods

PANAMA CITY, Fla./WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that China “broke the deal” it had reached in trade talks with the United States, and vowed not to back down on imposing new tariffs on Chinese imports unless Beijing “stops cheating our workers.”

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25 percent from 10 percent at 12:01 a.m. (0401) GMT on Friday, right in the middle of two days of meetings between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and Trump’s top trade officials in Washington.

Speaking to supporters at a rally in Florida on Wednesday, Trump accused China of breaking the deal and that Beijing would pay if no agreement is reached.

“I just announced that we’ll increase tariffs on China and we won’t back down until China stops cheating our workers and stealing our jobs, and that’s what’s going to happen, otherwise we don’t have to do business with them,” Trump told a cheering crowd.

“They broke the deal,” he added. “They can’t do that. So they’ll be paying. If we don’t make the deal, nothing wrong with taking in more than $100 billion a year.”

Trump’s comments fueled a round of selling in Asian markets

Beijing has announced it would retaliate if tariffs rise.

“The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the U.S. tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures,” China’s Commerce Ministry said on its website, without elaborating.

The world’s two largest economies have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff war since July 2018 over U.S. demands that the Asian powerhouse adopt policy changes that would, among other things, better protect American intellectual property and make China’s market more accessible to U.S. companies.

Expectations were recently riding high that a deal could be reached, but a deep rift over the language of the proposed agreement opened up last weekend.

Reuters, citing U.S. government and private-sector sources, reported on Wednesday that China had backtracked on almost all aspects of a draft trade agreement, threatening to blow up the negotiations and prompting Trump to order the tariff increase.

Trump, who has embraced largely protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda, warned China on Wednesday that it was mistaken if it hoped to delay a trade deal until a Democrat controlled the White House.

“The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to ‘negotiate’ with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats,” Trump, a Republican, tweeted on Wednesday.

“Guess what, that’s not going to happen! China has just informed us that they (Vice-Premier) are now coming to the U.S. to make a deal. We’ll see, but I am very happy with over $100 Billion a year in Tariffs filling U.S. coffers,” he added.

In response, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, criticized Trump, saying on Twitter that U.S. farmers, small-business owners and consumers were the ones hit by the tariff battle.

Speaking to reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the Trump administration had received an “indication” that China wants an agreement.

U.S. stock indexes rebounded slightly from this week’s earlier losses after her comments, but the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed in negative territory amid caution over trade and some disappointing earnings.

SWEEPING CHANGES

Washington is demanding Beijing make sweeping changes to its trade and regulatory practices, including protecting U.S. intellectual property from theft and forced transfers to Chinese firms, curbs on Chinese government subsidies and increased American access to China’s markets.

Trump also has sought massive hikes in Chinese purchases of U.S. farm, energy and manufactured products to shrink a gaping U.S. trade deficit with China.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump waves during joint statements with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Sources familiar with the talks said China’s latest demands for changes to a 150-page document that had been drafted over several months would make it hard to avoid the U.S. tariff hike on Friday. That increase would affect Chinese imports from computer modems and routers to vacuum cleaners, furniture, lighting and building materials.

Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the talks were at a delicate stage and much depended on what sort of proposal Liu is bringing to Washington.

“I think the Trump administration is quite serious about imposing tariffs,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think Liu He would have agreed to come if he was just going to give the U.S. a lecture.”

Reporting by Jeff Mason in Panama City, Florida, and David Lawder in Washington; Additional reporting by Makini Brice in Washington; Writing by Chris Prentice and David Alexander; Editing by Paul Simao, Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney

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Trump pressed Japan’s Abe to build more vehicles in the U.S

Trump pressed Japan's Abe to build more vehicles in the U.S

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump pressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to have Japanese automakers produce more vehicles in the United States, according to a readout of their recent meeting provided by the U.S. ambassador to Japan on Saturday.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The two discussed recent public announcements by Japanese car makers, including Toyota Motor Corp’s decision to invest more in U.S. plants.

“We talked about the need to see more movement in that direction but I think the president feels very positive that we will see such movement because all the economics support that,” said Ambassador William Hagerty.

Trump told a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Saturday that Abe said Japan would invest $40 billion in U.S. car factories, though Trump did not give details on the timeline for the planned investments.

Toyota, Japan’s largest automaker, said last month it would exceed a 2017 pledge to invest $10 billion over five years with a new commitment to reach nearly $13 billion over that period.

Trump has prodded Japanese automakers to add more jobs in the United States as the White House threatens to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported vehicles, on the grounds of national security.

Trump on Friday said it is possible that the United States and Japan could reach a new bilateral trade deal by the time he visits Tokyo in May, but he and Abe cited areas where they differ on trade.

“We want to ensure that the U.S. has trading terms with Japan that are no less favorable than any other nation,” Hagerty said in a phone call with reporters.

He added that Trump is planning to attend the summit of the Group of 20 industrialized nations set to take place in Osaka, Japan in June.

Separately, Trump was optimistic trade talks with China would be successful, the ambassador said.

Reporting by Chris Sanders, Jan Wolfe and Jason Lange; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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Share rally cools as Trump turns trade heat on Europe

Share rally cools as Trump turns trade heat on Europe

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar fell and the rally in global equities lost steam on Tuesday as a U.S. threat to slap tariffs on hundreds of European goods and a downgrade by the International Monetary Fund in its global economic growth forecasts dimmed the appetite for risk.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The IMF warned that growth could slow further due to trade tensions and a potentially disorderly British exit from the European Union. China, Germany and other major economies might need to take short-term actions to prop up growth, the IMF said.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers the Trump administration is preparing for the possibility of a “hard Brexit.”

Asian shares rose to an eight-month high overnight but U.S. and European markets fell after President Donald Trump welcomed the World Trade Organization’s finding that Europe’s subsidies to planemaker Airbus had hurt the United States.

The U.S. Trade Representative on Monday proposed a range of EU products, from large commercial aircraft and parts to dairy products and wine, to target as retaliation for subsidies given to Airbus.

Equities fell in Europe and on Wall Street, poised to snap an eight-day rally for the S&P 500, after an EU official said the European trade bloc was beginning preparations to retaliate over Boeing subsidies.

Uncertainty over tariffs and trade between the United States and China have dented business confidence and led corporate investment to dry up, said Hank Smith, co-chief investment officer at The Haverford Trust Co in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

“Business investment is now being put on hold because of the uncertainty around tariffs,” he said.

A weak U.S.-China trade deal probably is priced into the market, but a very good trade deal is not, Smith said.

“Even if it’s not so good, it is going to have a positive effect on the economy because it is going to remove an uncertainty,” he said.

MSCI’s all-country world index, a gauge of stock performance in 47 countries, fell 0.37%. The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.47% and the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares fell 0.41%.

Airbus said it saw no legal basis for the U.S. move toward imposing tariffs on its aircraft and warned of deepening trade tensions.

Shares in Airbus fell 1.86% and many of its key suppliers lost between 0.7% and 1.2%. Boeing shares fell 1.5% ahead of its aircraft delivery and order numbers for March.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 207.09 points, or 0.79%, to 26,133.93. The S&P 500 lost 18.79 points, or 0.65%, to 2,876.98 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 38.62 points, or 0.49%, to 7,915.26.

The yen rose as traders favored the safe-haven currency in the wake of the U.S. proposal for tariffs on European goods.

The dollar index fell 0.04%, with the euro up 0.05% to $1.1265. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.35% versus the greenback at 111.11 per dollar.

U.S. Treasury yields slid, pressured by concerns about the IMF’s global economic outlook for 2019 as well as a round of headlines on Britain’s messy departure from the EU.

In Europe, government borrowing costs in southern countries hit fresh lows, pushed down by hopes that this week’s European Central Bank meeting will reinforce expectations for supportive policy measures in the months ahead.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price to push yields down to 2.4953%.

Oil fell from a five-month high above $71 a barrel after Russia signaled a possible easing of a supply-cutting deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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Brent, the global benchmark, rose to $71.34 a barrel, the highest since November, but later settled down 49 cents at $70.61 per barrel. U.S. crude also hit a November high of $64.79, but settled down 42 cents at $63.98.

Gold rose to its highest in more than a week as the dollar and equities weakened.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.5% higher at $1,308.3 an ounce.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Dan Grebler and Phil Berlowitz

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Europeans join wave of Boeing suspensions, Trump frets

Europeans join wave of Boeing suspensions, Trump frets

ADDIS ABABA/PARIS (Reuters) – Major European nations Britain, Germany and France joined a wave of suspensions of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on Tuesday as U.S. President Donald Trump fretted over modern airplane design following a crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people.

Suspension by respected European regulators was the worst setback yet for U.S. planemaker Boeing in the wake of Sunday’s crash and put pressure on the United States to follow suit.

In response, the world’s biggest planemaker, which has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market value, said it understood the decisions but retained “full confidence” in the 737 MAX and had safety as its priority.

The cause of Sunday’s crash, which followed another disaster with a 737 Max five months ago in Indonesia that killed 189 people, remains unknown.

October’s Lion Air crash is also unresolved but attention has focused so far on the role of a software system designed to push the plane down as well as airline training and maintenance.

Boeing says it plans to update the software in coming weeks.

There is no evidence yet whether the two crashes are linked.

“Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT,” Trump tweeted, lamenting that product developers always sought to go an unnecessary step further when “old and simpler” was superior.

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!” he added, without referring directly to Boeing or recent accidents.

VICTIMS FROM 30 NATIONS

Elsewhere in Europe, Ireland, Austria and Norwegian Air said they too would temporarily ground MAX 8 passenger jets as a precaution. Earlier, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Oman had also temporarily suspended the aircraft, following China, Indonesia and others the day before.

The European Aviation Safety Agency, which has a major role in overseeing the design of aircraft and monitors some airline operations, was expected to make a statement later on Tuesday.

Experts say it is too early to speculate on the reason for the crash. Most are caused by a unique chain of human and technical factors.

Given problems of identification at the charred disaster site, Ethiopian Airlines said it would take at least five days to start handing remains to families.

The victims came from more than 30 different nations, and included nearly two dozen U.N. staff.

“We are Muslim and have to bury our deceased immediately,” Noordin Mohamed, a 27-year-old Kenyan businessman whose brother and mother died, told Reuters.

“Losing a brother and mother in the same day and not having their bodies to bury is very painful,” he said in the Kenyan capital Nairobi where the plane had been due.

Flight ET 302 came down in a field soon after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday, creating a fireball in a crater. It may take weeks or months to identify all the victims, who include a prize-winning author, a soccer official and a team of humanitarian workers.

A page of a flight crew operations manual is seen at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

The United States has said it remains safe to fly the planes. Still, two U.S. senators urged the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a temporary grounding.

Anxiety was also evident among some travelers, who rushed to find out from social media and travel agents whether they were booked to fly on 737 MAX planes.

If the black box recordings found at the Ethiopian crash site are undamaged, the cause of the crash could be identified quickly, although it typically takes a year for a full probe.

BETTER SOFTWARE

Boeing said it had been working since the Lion Air crash to enhance flight control software that would be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in coming weeks.

The MAX 8 has new software that automatically pushes the plane’s nose down if a stall is detected.

The new variant of the 737, the world’s best-selling modern passenger aircraft, was viewed as the likely workhorse for global airlines for decades and another 4,661 are on order.

In Latin America, Gol in Brazil temporarily suspended MAX 8 flights, as did Argentina’s state airline Aerolineas Argentinas and Mexico’s Aeromexico.

In Asia, South Korean budget carrier Eastar Jet said it would temporarily ground its two 737 MAX 8s from Wednesday, while India ordered additional checks.

Still, major airlines from North America to the Middle East kept flying the 737 MAX. Southwest Airlines Co, which operates the largest fleet of 737 MAX 8s, said it remained confident in the safety of all its Boeing planes.

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Boeing shares fell another 5.6 percent on Tuesday after having lost 5 percent on Monday.

Former FAA accident investigator Mike Daniel said the decision by regulators to ground the planes was premature. “To me it’s almost surreal how quickly some of the regulators are just grounding the aircraft without any factual information yet as a result of the investigation,” he told Reuters.

In Nairobi, the U.N. Environment Program set up a small memorial for Victor Tsang, a staff member who lost his life.

“Travel well my friend, see you on the other side,” said one entry in a condolence book beside a framed photograph, bouquet of flowers and candle. By mid-afternoon, 23 pages of the condolence book had been filled with over 250 names.

Additional reporting by Jamie Freed and Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Katharine Houreld and Hereward Holland in Nairobi; Eric Johnson in Seattle; James Pearson in Hanoi; Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Heekyong Yang in Seoul; Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Georgina Prodhan, Jon Boyle and Keith Weir

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Oil tumbles after Trump tells OPEC to ‘relax’

Oil tumbles after Trump tells OPEC to 'relax'

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil fell by more than 2 percent on Monday, reversing earlier gains after U.S. President Donald Trump told OPEC producers to “relax” as prices were too high.

Pumpjacks are seen against the setting sun at the Daqing oil field in Heilongjiang province, China December 7, 2018. Picture taken December 7, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Brent crude oil futures were down $1.43 at $65.69 a barrel at 1403 GMT, having earlier risen to a 2019 high of $67.47. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down $1.38 at $55.88 a barrel.

“Oil prices getting too high. OPEC, please relax and take it easy. World cannot take a price hike – fragile!” Trump tweeted.

(Graphic: Trump Tweet – tmsnrt.rs/2EuRPXQ)

Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries together with non-OPEC producers such as Russia have agreed to cut production by 1.2 million barrels per day this year to help balance the market and support prices.

The oil price has risen by around 20 percent this year, aided primarily by OPEC’s production cuts, as well as U.S. sanctions on exports of crude from Iran and Venezuela.

Trump has frequently blamed high oil prices on OPEC while the United States has become the world’s largest supplier thanks to shale output.

Monday’s comment, one of a series of tweets or comments he has made regarding oil prices since April 2018, follows a rally in crude prices in recent weeks supported by a tighter supply outlook although they are still significantly lower than the peak of more than $85 a barrel hit last October.

(Graphic: Trump Tweets on oil – tmsnrt.rs/2Evscq7)

Trump’s comment came a day after he said that there could be “very big news over the next week or two” in trade talks between the United States and China. Concerns of global trade wars weighed on oil prices earlier this year.

SUPPLY RISK

Adding to the uncertain supply picture are Libya, where production has been frequently undermined by political tensions and violence, and Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, where as many as 39 people were killed in election violence over the weekend.

“Supply risk is ever present with Venezuelan tensions brewing a notch higher … the National Oil Corporation in Libya refusing to start production at the El Sharara field,” Harry Tchilinguirian, global oil strategist at BNP Paribas in London, told the Reuters Global Oil Forum.

Goldman Sachs analysts said on Monday that “the near-term outlook for oil is modestly bullish over the next two to three months”, but added that the outlook for later in 2019 was weaker due to surging U.S. exports and an “an increasingly uncertain economic, policy and geopolitical backdrop”.

(Graphic: U.S. oil production & drilling levels – tmsnrt.rs/2Vj9SWv)

Reporting by Noah Browning; additional reporting by Henning Gloystein and Ron Bousso; editing by Jason Neely

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