US investigators subpoena Limerick tech firm for Trump information

Stripe asked for documents as part of larger investigation into president’s inauguration

Patrick Collison, chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe with brother John Collison, president and co-founder

Patrick Collison, chief executive officer and co-founder of Stripe with brother John Collison, president and co-founder

 

US federal prosecutors have asked Stripe, the online payments company founded by Limerick brothers Patrick and John Collison, to hand over certain documents as part of their ongoing investigation into President Donald Trump, according to several US media reports.

The reports state that federal prosecutors have escalated their investigation into Mr Trump’s inaugural committee, serving a subpoena on Monday related to the work of the committee established to organise his inauguration as president in January 2017 and events connected with the ceremony.

Among the information being demanded by investigators are details related to donors and contractors, and any possible foreign contributions.

This includes a demand for documents from Stripe, which may have provided the technology used for credit card payments related to the event. According to the New York Times, Josh Kushner, a brother of Mr Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, is a major investor in Stripe through Thrive Capital, a venture capital firm he founded and still manages.

The subpoena was issued by the US attorney’s office in the southern district of New York, and is understood to have stemmed from the investigation into Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former lawyer. Mr Trump’s inauguration committee raised $107 million for the 2017 inauguration – a much higher sum than for previous inaugurations. It has become increasingly the focus of investigators examining possible foreign interference in the US presidential election of 2016.

While the subpoena has been issued by federal prosecutors in New York, the activities of the inauguration committee are also said to be of interest to Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice to examine Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mr Trump’s inaugural committee was chaired by Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign official who has pleaded guilty to charges arising from the Mueller investigation and is co-operating with investigators.

Also mentioned in the subpoena is a specific donor – Imaad Zuberi, a Los Angeles venture capitalist. A company with which he is affiliated, Avenue Ventures, donated $900,000 to the inaugural committee.

Stripe, which has grown exponentially since it was founded by the two Limerick brothers in 2010, has become one of the big success stories of Silicon Valley. It was valued at $22.5 billion (€19.7 billion) as of last week after raising $100 million in a follow-on funding round.

The fast-growing company sought to downplay the significance of being asked to assist authorities, in a statement sent to The Irish Times.

“Advanced tooling gives us end-to-end visibility into transaction flows, and helps us spot financial crimes from money laundering to terrorist financing and corruption,” a Stripe spokesman said. “We receive hundreds of subpoenas and other law enforcement requests in the normal course of business, as do other infrastructure companies of our scale.”

In a separate development, the chairman of the House judiciary committee has threatened to subpoena acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker if he refuses to answer “uncomfortable questions” at a scheduled committee hearing on Friday.

Jerry Nadler said he was preparing a subpoena, but he hoped never to use it, stressing that Mr Whitaker should be prepared to answer questions about his communications with the White House and his refusal to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation. “If he appears on time and ready to answer those questions, the subpoena will be entirely unnecessary,” Mr Nadler said.

The House of Representatives has increased its scrutiny of the Department of Justice and the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian interference since Democrats won control of the House in November’s mid-term elections, with Democrats wresting control of key committee chairmanships.