Financial regulation

New York bank regulator probes multimillion-dollar Kushner family loans

Jared Kushner’s financial and business ties have been of consistent interest as he is taken on a broad portfolio in the White House because of potential conflicts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 4:22am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2018, 9:27pm

New York’s state banking regulator asked Deutsche Bank AG and two other lenders for information on their relationships with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his family’s real estate company, a person familiar with the matter said.

The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) made the requests to Deutsche Bank, Signature Bank and New York Community Bank for information on loans and other financial arrangements including lines of credit and loan guarantees a week ago, the person said.

The regulator also asked for information related to other family members, the person said.

Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for Kushner Cos, said the company had not received a copy of any letter from the regulator. She described Kushner Cos as a “multibillion enterprise that is extremely financially strong.

“Before our CEO voluntarily resigning to serve our country, we never had any type of inquiries,” Taylor said in an email.

“These types of inquiries appear to be harassment solely for political reasons.”

These types of inquiries appear to be harassment solely for political reasons
Kushner Cos spokeswoman

Jared Kushner’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment. According to government financial disclosures from last year, he has lines of credit at the three banks, among others.

The New York regulator declined to comment, as did Deutsche Bank.

Signature, a New York state-chartered bank, said that, with the permission of its client, it could state that “the Kushner Family and Kushner Co have been clients since 2010.” Signature said that, by law, it cannot disclose regulatory or legal inquiries.

New York Community Bank, another New York state-chartered bank, had no immediate comment.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the private equity firm Apollo Global Management and Citigroup Inc extended loans totalling more than half a billion dollars to Kushner Cos last year after their officials held separate meetings with Kushner.

It said Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo, was advising Trump administration officials on infrastructure policy and held several meetings with Kushner.

They discussed a possible White House job for Harris, which did not materialise, but Apollo lent US$184 million to Kushner Cos in November, the paper said.

Citigroup lent Kushner Cos and one of its partners US$325 million in the spring of 2017 soon after Citigroup’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, met with Kushner in the White House, the Times said.

Taylor, of Kushner Cos, told the Times “stories like these attempt to make insinuating connections that do not exist to disparage the financial institutions and companies involved.”

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Kushner’s lawyer Abbe Lowell, said Kushner has had no role in Kushner Cos since joining the government.

“He has followed the ethics advice he has received for all of his work which include the separation from his business and recusals when appropriate,” the spokesman added.

Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero-Apsilos told the Times Kushner Cos had been a bank client since before the election and that the relationship had no connection to Kushner’s White House role. She said Citigroup negotiated the 2017 loan with Kushner Cos’ business partner, a real estate developer. She declined to comment further.

Apollo spokesman Charles Zehren told the paper Harris was not involved in the decision to loan money to Kushner Cos.

As New York’s bank regulator, DFS supervises the New York branch of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s flagship lender, along with the two state-chartered lenders.

If DFS finds the loans somehow violate banking law, it could fine the banks or take other corrective action with regard to their business practices, said New York lawyer Daniel Alter, former general counsel at DFS.

If the regulator finds potential criminal activity by either the borrowers or the banks, it could also refer the matter to prosecutors for further investigation, Alter said.

Last year Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, resigned from Kushner Cos and sold his stake to a family trust as part of an effort to avoid conflicts of interests in his White House role.

The private real estate company owns or partially owns buildings in New York and New Jersey.

Kushner, who had a broad portfolio in the White House, including leading Middle East peace negotiations and an effort to modernise and reduce the size of some government programmes, lost his interim top-secret security clearance.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg