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First Republic: Meet the Bank at the Center of the Michael Cohen Scandal

Courtesy of Pam Martens

First Republic Bank, Palm Beach, Florida Branch

First Republic Bank, Palm Beach, Florida Branch

It’s about a six-minute drive from Donald Trump’s luxurious Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida to the palm-lined street where First Republic Bank has a branch to service the super wealthy. It is not known if Donald Trump has an account at this branch, but according to Trump’s Federal financial disclosure report, he maintains a checking account at First Republic Bank.

Unfortunately for Trump, Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, also maintains an account with First Republic Bank. Cohen had his home, office, hotel room and safety deposit box raided by the FBI on April 9 and has been the subject of titillating news reporting every evening since over his wire of $130,000 as hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleges an affair with Trump. The wire was sent from Cohen’s Essential Consultants LLC account at First Republic Bank.

It would not be surprising this morning if everyone from the CEO on down at First Republic Bank wanted to erase the names Cohen and Trump from their memory banks. The stock of First Republic Bank is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The bank caters, almost exclusively, to the super wealthy. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2016 that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, worth $72.5 billion today according to Forbes, is a client at First Republic Bank.

The bank’s business model of opening branches in tony towns on the East and West Coasts has proven a winning strategy. According to company reports, its deposits have grown from $18 billion in mid 2010 to $68.9 billion as of December 31, 2017. The FDIC reports that 100 percent of its deposits are domestic – meaning it has no foreign money.

That is now being called into question as a result of the nightly media appearances by Stormy Daniels’ attorney, Michael Avenatti. According to Avenatti, $500,000 that came into Cohen’s First Republic Bank account is tied to the Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, now on a U.S. sanctions list and closely tied to Russian president Vladimir Putin. The $500,000 came from a U.S.-based company, Columbus Nova, which has denied any corporate ties to Vekselberg. However, those clever folks at Think Progress, used the Wayback machine to access the Columbus Nova website as of January of 2017 where Columbus Nova is listed as a subsidiary of Renova Group, Vekselberg’s Russian company.

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