Thomas Bowers, identified as a former Deutsche Bank executive who signed off on controversial loans to President Donald Trump, died last week after apparently taking his own life at 55.
According to Forensic News‘ Scott Stedman, “One source who has direct knowledge of the FBI’s investigation into Deutsche Bank said that federal investigators have asked about Bowers and documents he might have. Another source who has knowledge of Deutsche Bank’s internal structure said that Bowers would have been the gatekeeper for financial documents for the bank’s wealthiest customers.”
The news of Bowers’s death was initially shared late Tuesday afternoon by New York Times reporter David Enrich.
The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s initial report attributes Bowers’s death to suicide by hanging.
Bowers previously worked as Deutsche Bank’s head of their U.S. Private Wealth Management division.
According to the New York Times, Deutsche Bank “agreed in 2005 to lend Mr. Trump more than $500 million [to build a skyscraper in Chicago]. He personally guaranteed $40 million of it, meaning the bank could come after his personal assets if he defaulted.”
After that loan was extended and the relationship between Deutsche Bank and Trump was solidified–and well before it went sour in 2008 due to Trump being unable or unwilling to repay the first loan–banker Rosemary Vrablic was assigned the Trump portfolio.
Vrablic’s direct boss during her relationship with Trump was Bowers.
That New York Times story notes:
Traditionally, private bankers discreetly manage customers’ wealth and act as high-end concierges. Ms. Vrablic, who started her career as a bank teller and then worked at Citigroup and Bank of America, did that and more. She also arranged large real estate and commercial loans for her best clients.To lure her, Deutsche Bank guaranteed that she would earn at least $3 million a year, unusually rich terms for a private banker, and would bypass a layer of management to report directly to Thomas Bowers, the head of the American wealth-management division, according to people familiar with her contract.
Hired in 2006, Deutsche Bank lavished praise on Vlabic and another recent hire, Dominic Scalzi, who were brought on as “Managing Directors and Senior Private Bankers in [Deutsche Bank’s] US Private Wealth Management (PWM) business.”
“Rosemary is widely recognized as one of the top private bankers to the US ultra high-net-worth community,” Bowers said in a press release at the time. “With both Rosemary and Dominic’s extensive banking and structured lending experience, we will further enhance our position as a leading integrated Private Bank.”
By 2010, Trump and Deutsche Bank were on lending terms again. (A lawsuit between Trump and the bank over his failure to repay the $500 million loan was settled.) Trump reached out to Vrablic via his recently acquired son-in-law and her client Jared Kushner.
On Trump’s dime, Vrablic arrived in Miami to inspect a property Trump was interested in buying: the Doral Golf Resort and Spa. The star of NBC’s The Apprentice needed $100 million to make the deal.
At the same time, Trump made an unusual request for a second loan.
He wanted an additional $48 million to infuse into the Chicago skyscraper bearing his name. Part of that second loan would help him pay off what he owed the bank’s investment banking division.
“Ms. Vrablic and Mr. Bowers tentatively agreed to both loans,” the Times story notes–and the relationship between Deutsche Bank and the eventual 45th president soared after that.
Due to Vrablic’s and Bowers’s trust in Trump, Deutsche Bank loaned Trump $170 million as he transmogrified the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C. into what is now another Trump-branded hotel.
Trump’s ultimately unsuccessful billion dollar efforts to purchase the Buffalo Bills was also underwritten by the German investment firm.
And the extended Trump clan got the benefits of that long working relationship as well. Again the Times:
Deutsche Bank lent money to Donald Trump Jr. for a South Carolina manufacturing venture that would soon go bankrupt. It provided a $15 million credit line to Mr. Kushner and his mother, according to financial documents reviewed by The Times. The bank previously had an informal ban on business with the Kushners because Jared’s father, Charles, was a felon.
The relationship continued into 2015 when an additional $19 million loan was dispensed for Trump’s Doral estate. One final loan was broached in 2016–Trump needed money for his golf course in Scotland. But by then Trump’s rhetoric had worn thin with Deutsche Bank’s upper echelons and their reputational risk committee.
And Bowers was out–he joined Starwood Capital Group in 2015.
[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]