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The Criminally Dark History of Deutsche Bank

March 20, 2022
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Ever since its founding in 1870, Deutsche Bank has gotten ahead by taking more risks than other banks. These risks have included working with individuals, projects, and institutions that no other bank will touch – from the N*zi party to Donald Trump. The bank’s dirty deeds accelerated in the 1980s when it extended its reach to trading markets in London and New York.

Deutsche hired brash American traders to run its new investment banking arm, and high-risk trading became a game unto itself rather than a way to serve clients. Its executives got rich. They also became addicted to winning. For Deutsche executives, if a deal ended in money, any means was perfectly justifiable. But the glory days of greed were numbered. As government regulators learned of Deutsche’s excesses, the pressure grew too great for one executive – Bill Broeksmit. In 2014, he killed himself, becoming a symbol of the bank’s destructive institutional greed. This Deutsche Bank documentary is based on Dark Towers book by David Enrich. On a rainy Sunday in 2014, a senior executive at Deutsche Bank was found hanging in his London apartment. Bill Broeksmit had helped build the 150-year-old financial institution into a global colossus, and his sudden death was a mystery, made more so by the bank’s efforts to deter investigation. Broeksmit, it turned out, was a man who knew too much. In Dark Towers, award-winning journalist David Enrich reveals the truth about Deutsche Bank and its epic path of devastation. Tracing the bank’s history back to its propping up of a default-prone American developer in the 1880s, helping the N*zis build Auschwitz, and wooing Eastern Bloc authoritarians, he shows how in the 1990s, via a succession of hard-charging executives, Deutsche made a fateful decision to pursue Wall Street riches, often at the expense of ethics and the law. Soon, the bank was manipulating markets, violating international sanctions to aid terrorist regimes, scamming investors, defrauding regulators, and laundering money for Russian oligarchs.

Ever desperate for an American foothold, Deutsche also started doing business with a self-promoting real estate magnate nearly every other bank in the world deemed too dangerous to touch: Donald Trump. Over the next twenty years, Deutsche executives loaned billions to Trump, the Kushner family, and an array of scandal-tarred clients. Dark Towers is the never-before-told saga of how Deutsche Bank became the global face of financial recklessness and criminality—the corporate equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction. It is also the story of a man who was consumed by fear of what he’d seen at the bank—and his son’s obsessive search for the secrets he kept. Deutsche Bank’s corruption, arrogance, and unbridled greed has unleashed destructive consequences on the finance industry, the global economy, and the US presidency – not to mention the individual Deutsche employees who have to live with themselves. The bank is restructuring, ostensibly to avoid repeating its past mistakes, but the damage it has wrought can’t be undone.

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