Democrats question whether Kushner deal with Chinese conglomerate poses a conflict of interest

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 4:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 10:00pm

Five Democratic lawmakers are raising ethics concerns about a Chinese conglomerate’s potential investment in a Manhattan office building owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a senior White House adviser.

This deal, if executed, would appear to present a clear conflict of interest
Five Democratic lawmakers

The lawmakers asked the White House in a March 24 letter to explain whether Kushner was involved in any talks about the possible partnership with China’s Anbang Insurance Group. They also asked for additional details on Kushner’s divestment from his family’s company, Kushner Cos.

“This deal, if executed, would appear to present a clear conflict of interest,” the lawmakers wrote to Stefan Passantino, White House deputy counsel. Anbang has “close ties to the Chinese state”, they added. The White House didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

Bloomberg reported earlier this month on a financing proposal that would make Anbang and Kushner Cos. partners in the marquee office tower, located at 666 Fifth Avenue Some real estate experts considered the terms of the US$4 billion transaction unusually favourable to the Kushners. The property has struggled financially.

Anbang subsequently denied there was a planned deal, saying in a statement that “there is no investment”.

Kushner has said he sold his stake in the building to family members to comply with federal ethics rules. Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Tom Carper of Delaware, Gary Peters of Michigan and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, along with Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, signed the letter.

They wrote separately to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who heads the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews foreign business transactions on whether they could jeopardise US national security. The committee previously rejected a proposed Anbang property acquisition because of its proximity to a naval base in San Diego.