Democrats subpoena banks as they probe Trump finances

California Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating jointly with the Finance Committee US President Donald Trump’s finances. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 16 April 2019
0

Democrats subpoena banks as they probe Trump finances

  • The investigations are among several House Democrats are conducting into aspects of the president’s personal and political life.
  • Trump son lash at subpoenas as “an unprecedented abuse of power" by the Democrats

WASHINGTON: Two House committees subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and several other financial institutions Monday as part of investigations into President Donald Trump’s finances.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-California, said in a statement that the subpoenas are part of an investigation “into allegations of potential foreign influence on the US political process.”
Schiff did not name the other financial institutions or describe the subpoenas.
House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said in a separate statement that “the potential use of the US financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern.” She said her committee is looking into those matters, including whether they pertain to Trump.
It was unclear exactly what the committees asked for. The investigations are among several House Democrats are conducting into aspects of the president’s personal and political life, and Schiff has said he is investigating whether foreign actors, including Russia, have sought to hold leverage over Trump or his family and associates.
Eric Trump, the president’s son and executive vice president of The Trump Organization, said in a statement released Monday that the subpoenas were “an unprecedented abuse of power and simply the latest attempt by House Democrats to attack the President and our family for political gain.”
As part of his investigation, Schiff has said he wants to know whether Russians used laundered money for transactions with the Trump Organization. Trump’s businesses have benefited from Russian investment over the years.
Deutsche Bank is a German asset management firm that has lent Trump’s real estate organization millions of dollars over time. The two committees have been working with the bank for several weeks, and both Waters and Schiff have said officials have been cooperative. Schiff said in his statement that the subpoena to Deutsche Bank is a “friendly” subpoena, meaning he expects them to continue working with the committees.
The request comes as a third committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, is sparring with the White House over Trump’s tax returns.
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., has set a deadline of April 23 for six years of returns. But Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has said Democrats will “never” see the returns, “nor should they,” and “they know it.”
 


Muslims flee, Christians grieve in Sri Lankan town torn by violence

Updated 11 min 17 sec ago
0

Muslims flee, Christians grieve in Sri Lankan town torn by violence

  • Church leaders believe the final toll from the Daesh-claimed attack on St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo could be close to 200
  • Fearing retaliation, hundreds of Pakistani Muslims fled the multi-ethnic port an hour north of the capital, Colombo

NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka: As mourners buried the remains of Christian worshippers killed by the Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, hundreds of Muslim refugees fled Negombo on the country’s west coast where communal tensions have flared in recent days.
At least 359 people perished in the coordinated series of blasts targeting churches and hotels. Church leaders believe the final toll from the attack on St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo could be close to 200, almost certainly making Negombo the deadliest of the six near-simultaneous attacks.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Pakistani Muslims fled the multi-ethnic port an hour north of the capital, Colombo. Crammed into buses organized by community leaders and police, they left fearing for their safety after threats of revenge from locals.
“Because of the bomb blasts and explosions that have taken place here, the local Sri Lankan people have attacked our houses,” Adnan Ali, a Pakistani Muslim, told Reuters as he prepared to board a bus. “Right now we don’t know where we will go.”
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks, yet despite Islamic State being a Sunni jihadist group, many of the Muslims fleeing Negombo belong to the Ahmadi community, who had been hounded out of Pakistan years ago after their sect was declared non-Muslim.
The fallout from Sunday’s attacks appears set to render them homeless once more.
Farah Jameel, a Pakistani Ahmadi, said she had been thrown out of her house by her landlord.
“She said ‘get out of here and go wherever you want to go, but don’t live here’,” she told Reuters, gathered with many others at the Ahmadiyya Mosque, waiting for buses to take them to a safe location.

“I have nothing now“
Sri Lanka’s government is in disarray over the failure to prevent the attacks, despite repeated warnings from intelligence sources.
Police have detained an unspecified number of people were detained in western Sri Lanka, the scene of anti-Muslim riots in 2014, in the wake of the attacks, and raids were carried out in neighborhoods around St. Sebastian’s Church.
Police played down the threats to the refugees, but said they have been inundated with calls from locals casting suspicion on Pakistanis in Negombo.
“We have to search houses if people suspect,” said Herath BSS El-Sisila Kumara, the officer in charge at Katara police station, where 35 of the Pakistanis that gathered at the mosque were taken into police custody for their own protection, before being sent to an undisclosed location.
“All the Pakistanis have been sent to safe houses,” he said. “Only they will decide when they come back.”
Two kilometers away, makeshift wooden crosses marked the new graves at the sandy cemetery of St. Sebastian’s Church, as the latest funerals on Wednesday took the number buried there to 40.
Channa Repunjaya, 49, was at home when he heard about the blast at St. Sebastian’s. His wife, Chandralata Dassanaike and nine-year-old daughter Meeranhi both died.
“I felt like committing suicide when I heard that they had died,” he told Reuters by the open graves. “I have nothing now.”
Meeranhi’s grandmother, with her head still bandaged after being wounded in the attack, was held by a relative as the first handfuls of earth were scattered upon her child-sized coffin.
Most of Sri Lanka’s 22 million people are Buddhist, but the Indian Ocean island’s population includes Muslim, Hindu and Christian minorities. Until now, Christians had largely managed to avoid the worst of the island’s conflict and communal tensions.
There were signs of some religious communities pulling together following Sunday’s outrage.
Saffron- and scarlet-robed Buddhist monks from a nearby monastery handed out bottled water to mourners who gathered under a baking afternoon sun.
But the town, which has a long history of sheltering refugees – including those made homeless by a devastating tsunami in 2004 – may struggle to recover from Sunday’s violence, said Father Jude Thomas, one of dozens of Catholic priests who attended Wednesday’s burials.
“Muslims and Catholics lived side by side,” he said. “It was always a peaceful area, but now things have come to the surface we cannot control.”