Kushner Companies apologizes for Journal Square project pitch to Chinese investors

  • Kushner Companies apologizes for Journal Square project pitch to Chinese investors

Kushner Companies apologizes for Journal Square project pitch to Chinese investors

A property developer owned by relatives of the USA president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has apologised for touting the Kushner connection at an investor presentation in China.

Kushner's lawyer, Blake Roberts of WilmerHale law firm, said in an emailed statement that Kushner "will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program".

Kushner Companies on Monday said that it didn't mean to mention Jared Kushner's role in the Trump administration in order to reel in Chinese investors to help fund a development in New Jersey.

Meyer made the same pitch in Shanghai on Sunday, according to the Times. Rep. Zoe Lofgren from California, the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, also said in an interview Sunday it was "pretty sketchy" for Meyer to make her sales pitch amidst uncertainty of the program's continued existence.

Kushner Companies "apologizes if that mention of [Meyer's] brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors", it said in a statement emailed to NPR, adding that it was not her intention. It began a quarter-century ago as a well-intentioned plan to attract global capital to the United States by awarding permanent residency to 10,000 foreigners per year who agreed to invest at least $500,000 into a USA business, creating at least 10 jobs directly or indirectly.

According to the website of Beijing-based immigration services company QWOS, Kushner Companies was seeking $150 million from 300 EB-5 investors.

In an unclassified State Department report from June 2012, officials said that Chinese applicants to the program are "usually coached and prepped for their interviews, making it hard to take at face value applicant claims regarding income" or membership in the Communist Party.

Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian, said he could recall one other time a sitting president tried to sell a property: Richard Nixon's Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan, a deal that closed shortly after he took office.

During the presentation, a slide was shown identifying US President Donald Trump as being a "key decision maker" for the EB-5 program. He insisted Kushner has complied with all ethics rules by disassociating himself from the company. And she's using the case of the Kushner family business to bolster her argument. In China, business, family and politics are often deeply intertwined with Kushner filling the familiar role of "princeling" in the eyes of China's elite.

Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog group, said he was skeptical of that explanation. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, the United States issued over 10,000 such visas-and 85% of them went to people from China.

And even if the slide caught Kushner Meyer by surprise, Noble said the incident demonstrates why such connections can be risky.

When asked about the connection, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented simply, "I would refer you to the company on that". Its promotional materials for the project, which it also calls Kushner1, advertise the prospect of putting money in under the federal EB-5 program.

The program, which has been around since 1990, is big business for developers like Kushner Companies, whose former CEO, Jared Kushner, is President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.

"There are serious concerns held by the administration regarding the EB-5 visa program, in part because it is not being used as it was primarily intended, and in part because it poses something of a security risk to the United States", Short said.