US President Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS
US President Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

New York — On Tuesday, a US appeals court handed President Donald Trump another defeat in his bid to keep his financial records secret, directing Deutsche Bank and Capital One Financial to comply with subpoenas from congressional Democrats demanding the material.

A three-judge panel of the Manhattan-based second US circuit court of appeals rejected Trump’s bid to block two House of Representatives committees from enforcing subpoenas to the two banks seeking the documents. Trump had sued the two banks in an effort to prevent the disclosure of his financial records.

Trump is expected to appeal the matter in the US supreme court. Lawyers for Trump could not immediately be reached for comment.

The subpoenas were issued months before House Democrats began an inquiry in September into whether there were grounds to impeach Trump over his request to Ukraine to investigate Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

In subpoenas issued in April, the House financial services committee and the intelligence committee asked Deutsche Bank for records related to Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organisation. Lawmakers have said the requests are part of a wider investigation into money laundering and foreign influence over US politics.

The financial services committee subpoenaed Capital One in April, seeking records related to the Trump Organisation’s hotel business.

In Tuesday’s decision, a 2-1 majority of the second circuit panel rejected Trump’s argument that Congress did not have a valid purpose for seeking his records, and that enforcing the subpoenas would compromise his and his family’s privacy. The panel said that congressional investigations “substantially ‘overbalance’ the privacy interests invaded by disclosure of financial documents”.

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump’s real estate business. A 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130m in liabilities with the bank.

Congressional investigators have already identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank’s money-laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs, people familiar with the matter have told Reuters.

Trump has sought to keep his financial and tax records private. He broke with tradition by not releasing his tax returns as a candidate in 2016 and as president.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment. Capital One did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In separate legal cases, Trump has sought to block House Democrats from obtaining his tax and financial records. The US supreme court, as soon as December 13, will decide whether to hear Trump’s appeal of lower court rulings that directed Mazars, his long-term accounting firm, to provide local prosecutors in New York with Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018 as part of a criminal investigation.

Trump is also due to file, by Thursday, his appeal of a court ruling in Washington directing Mazars to turn over his financial records to the House oversight committee. Last week, the supreme court put the lower court ruling on hold to give Trump time to appeal.