Trump Tower’s $100 million mortgage has been the subject of some heated speculation after Trump launched a coup against the US government that left people behind dead in the US Capitol building, and some innocent souls are wondering if Trump could ever find a bank shady enough to work with a rioter. Things looked even grimmer when Donald Trump’s longtime auditors severed all ties with Trump earlier this year and announced they would no longer stand by the Trump Organization’s financial statements for the past 10 years — the sort of Wall Street announcement that they found something so sketchy going on that they want absolutely no part in whether or not Trump’s checks get cashed and have no intention of going to jail for it.
But the Trump Tower mortgage, it turns out, wasn’t an issue for Trump. Just days after Trump’s auditors let go of him and announced that his company’s financial statements were “extremely likely to be crooked,” Trump Tower received a $100 million refinancing that came from Axos, a smaller bank formerly known , inked the “Bank of Internet USA” and currently run by an ex-Indymac exec who joined the company right before the whole Wall Street “We almost destroyed the entire world economy” debacle.
Okay, well, it’s a bit odd that the mortgage for Trump Tower was taken on by a bank with an internet presence but no actual branches, run by a manager who’s managed to stay on his feet, though its previous institution not only collapsed, but cratered so spectacularly that its failure will be enshrined in new US history books. But what we can probably gather from this is that none of the banks Trump had previous relationships with wanted to do business with him, despite the pile of cash, while the new entity thought he was still worth the extra risk.
But NBC News’ investigation also revealed some other strange things at play here. Things that all look a little sketchy to us laypeople, but could also be plausible for how things work on Wall Street these days — at least, that’s how the company tries to sell it.
Strange stuff ranging from the two ex-employees who are suing the company after being fired for reporting shady behavior, for example, to allegedly hiding problems with shaky loans…
… offering “cash-recapture” loans in a manner that may facilitate international money laundering …
… teaming up with other companies to offer the small business equivalent of “payday loans,” loans that circumvent typical regulations that limit how much interest these businesses can charge.
Which, okay, sounds a bit weird! The “hide troubles with shaky credit” part is straight out of the 2008 financial crisis, but I suppose none of us really expect the banks to do that not Dive right back into the break-the-economy behavior that earns breakers big bonuses before it all goes to hell.
It’s a bit strange that the company has been accused of making it too easy for money launderers, considering that Trump Tower and Trump’s other real estate companies have been hotspots of Russian money laundering for decades. But again, real estate laws have been very carefully crafted to facilitate money laundering, so can we even call it “weird”? Or is everything going as usual?
And the last, charging grotesque interest rates through loopholes in laws prohibiting such things, what NBC dubs the supposed “rent-a-bank scheme,” is a bit strange just because it turns out it was the Trump administration that enacted the rule allowing it, and it’s already being overturned by the Biden administration for obviously being patchy. So, um, extra points for them for managing to get some benefit from a fleeting rule change that was pretty much destined to be ripped back once a non-sketchy government took over. I guess.
But it doesn’t even end there. NBC News also notes that the company has in the past stalked anonymous bloggers who drew attention to their weirdness, and that the company’s boss responded to an auditor’s whistleblowing reports by suing him and the accountant’s mother for taking “confidential” information, which, ok, bringing in the guy’s mother definitely ranks high on the old finance company’s weird gauge, but in a world with Elon Musk, Peter Lawsuitguy, and a man , who hand-stuffs each of his famously shitty pillows with inflammatory conspiracy theories hardly enhances it. We just have to live with the knowledge that our rich betters these days are super, super unhappy with our general mob opinions.
The question NBC News raises with all of this is what the hell are we, on the outside, supposed to make of it all? Donald Trump had just saved his bacon days after his company’s accounting firm publicly told the world that there was something extremely sketchy going on with his accounting, and a look at the unremarkable company that rescued him suggests it is a company dealing in minor matters Credit has specialized outline and has ex-employees claiming they were fired for pointing out the sketch, making the company sound like it went to prep school with Eric Trump or something.
Incidentally, the company’s defense against allegations by a former employee that it was too permissive about potential money laundering behavior is a claim to NBC News that such loans are subject to a “full, customer-facing investigation” before approval. what… okay. Sure, that would be responsible behavior. It’s hard to imagine a company staying in business very long if it doesn’t do things like this.
I’m not sure how such a company would fly such a big red flag as “Just days before we signed this paper, the company to which we made a loan was found guilty by its own auditors of misleading or fraudulent finance for up to ten years fired bank statements”, but none of us here are bankers and we don’t know how this stuff works. It’s all just a little bit strange.
It’ll be even stranger if a company that once called itself the “Bank of the Internet” foreclosed on Trump Tower if and when Donald Trump’s finances collapse again, but we won’t do without it either.