Trump Got a Loan From Tiny Coral Gables Bank, Then Its CEO Got a Federal Appointment

Most people haven't heard of Professional Bank. It's a tiny outpost in Coral Gables that doesn't have a fraction of the name recognition of major Wall Street financial institutions.

But last year, Professional Bank snagged quite the client: President Donald Trump. According to records uncovered by Mother Jones this past Wednesday, Professional Bank loaned one of Trump's shell companies, 1125 South Ocean LLC, "between $5 million and $25 million" at 4.5 percent interest. Trump used the money to buy a Palm Beach mansion owned by his sister, former federal judge Maryanne Trump Barry, which is located next door to his Mar-a-Lago resort.

The loans are bizarre for a few big reasons. One, the New York Times this week detailed how most banks have refused to lend to the Trump Organization due to its long history of shady dealings and business failures. (Ultimately, Trump in the 1990s began relying on the German Deutsche Bank, which at the time was pretty desperate to grow its reputation on Wall Street.) The Trump Organization previously claimed Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were behind the mansion purchase, but the president's financial disclosures show Trump Sr. still controls the property.

Making matters more interesting: Not long after Professional Bank handed Trump a bunch of money, its CEO, Abel Iglesias, was appointed in January 2019 to the board of the Miami branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. (The Atlanta branch handles business for portions of many Southern states, including all of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.) Iglesias is also the former chair of Miami Dade College's Center for Financial Training, the ex-chair of the nonprofit Friends of WLRN, and a former board member of the politically powerful Latin Builders Association.

Iglesias became the bank's CEO because of some bizarre and altogether dark circumstances. The bank's previous CEO was Raul G. Valdes-Fauli — the son of multiple-time Coral Gables Mayor Raul J. Valdes-Fauli. But the younger Valdes-Fauli died by suicide in 2016, which his friends and family said was a complete shock to all who knew him. (Raul G.'s grandfather, Raul E. Valdes-Fauli, was a powerful lawyer in pre-Castro Cuba who represented bankers and sugar barons on the island.)

Professional Bank also happens to have at least one other well-known politician on its books. In 2015, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Trump ally, reportedly took out a $604,000 mortgage with the bank.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.