The daily business briefing: May 20, 2019

Harold Maass
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NYT: Deutsche Bank ignored suspicious activity in Trump, Kushner accounts

Deutsche Bank anti-money laundering specialists in 2016 and 2017 recommended reporting transactions that involved legal entities controlled by President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a Treasury Department financial-crimes watchdog, The New York Times reported Sunday. Bank executives reportedly rejected the recommendation. Some of the alleged transactions involved Trump's charitable foundation, which has shut down. A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization told Reuters the story was "absolute nonsense," and that the company has "no knowledge of any 'flagged' transactions with Deutsche Bank. In fact, we have no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank." A Kushner Companies spokeswoman called any claim of money laundering "made up and totally false." [The New York Times, Reuters]


Billionaire Robert Smith to pay Morehouse graduates' student loans

Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith shocked graduating seniors at Morehouse College during his commencement speech on Sunday when he told them he would pay off the student-loan debts of everyone in their class at the historically black, all-male college in Atlanta. "On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we're going to put a little fuel in your bus," he said. The students responded with a standing ovation. Morehouse President David Thomas said Smith had made a "liberation gift" that could total $40 million for the 396 students. "We're looking at each other like, 'Is he being serious?'" salutatorian Robert James said. "That's a lot of money." Another graduate, Jonathan Epps, called the gift a "tremendous blessing" and the most generous act he had ever seen. [CNN]


Reuters: Google suspends Huawei access to key services

Google has suspended most business with Huawei requiring hardware or software transfer in what could be a major setback for the Chinese tech giant, Reuters reported Sunday, citing a source familiar with the matter. The Trump administration has sought to blacklist Huawei, the No. 3 smartphone maker, due to concerns its hardware could be used by China for spying. The administration last week added Huawei to a trade blacklist that will make it harder for U.S. companies to do business with the Chinese firm. Google said it was "complying with the order and reviewing the implications." The source told Reuters that Huawei still would be able to "use the public version of Android," Google's mobile operating system, but it won't have "access to proprietary apps and services from Google." [Reuters]


U.S. stock futures drop as fallout from U.S. Huawei crackdown spreads

U.S. stock index futures fell early Monday, partly due to concerns over the fallout from the Trump administration's crackdown on Chinese tech giant Huawei. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by roughly 0.5 percent, and those of the Nasdaq fell by more than 1 percent. The Trump administration last week added Huawei to a trade blacklist, and Google responded on Sunday by suspending most of its business with the company. The development fueled fears of an intensifying U.S.-China trade war and tariffs imposed by both sides that are hurting importers, exporters, and U.S. farmers. A U.S. decision to remove tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum helped to ease some of investors' fears over global trade tensions. [CNBC]


John Wick: Chapter 3 knocks Avengers: Endgame from top spot

John Wick: Chapter 3, a thriller starring Keanu Reeves, knocked Avengers: Endgame from the top of the box office, bringing in an estimated $57 million in North American ticket sales over the weekend. Avengers: Endgame, which was No. 1 for three weekends in a row, came in second place with an estimated $29.4 million in ticket sales. Pokémon Detective Pikachu finished third, with an estimated $24.8 million. John Wick: Chapter 3's debut was huge compared to those of the first movies in the series: John Wick brought in $14.4 million in 2014, and John Wick: Chapter 2 earned $30.4 million in 2017, Entertainment Weekly reports. Avengers: Endgame has brought in $2.62 billion globally, still behind the biggest movie ever, 2009's Avatar, which earned $2.78 billion. [Entertainment Weekly]