(Bloomberg) — When billionaire Lex Greensill won an $800 million investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund last year to develop new technology and expand his trade-finance empire, the bulk of the money went to a small, unprofitable German lender.
Greensill Bank, a 93-year-old firm known as NordFinanz Bank AG until the Australian financier bought it in 2014, suddenly found itself flush with capital. The size of its balance sheet increased more than seven-fold while it offered above-market interest rates to attract deposits that it would then invest in assets sourced by its parent, Greensill Capital.
The growth of the Bremen-based bank has attracted the scrutiny of Germany’s main regulator as well as its deposit-insurance program, according to people familiar with the matter. They worry that too many of the assets on the bank’s books are ultimately tied to the same source: British-Indian entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta.