Jared Kushner and the real estate world.
Before his father-in-law ran for President, jared kushner was a booming real estate developer. His wide-ranging role at the White House has raised concerns that his business could affect his public duties.
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Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President trump, appears to have a sizable portfolio at the White House. He was asked to play a leading role in peace talks in the Middle East, and proposed a strategy to deal with the United States’ opiate epidemic, and to manage relations with Mexico and China. Now, before coming to Washington, the 36-year-old kushner is a businessman in New York. As NPR’s Jackie Northam reports, there are concerns that his business relationship may conflict with his White House role.
JACKIE NORTHAM: before his father-in-law decided to run for President, jared kushner was a booming real estate and investment giant. When he was only 26, he sold a record $1.8 billion for a skyscraper in Manhattan. ‘this helped Kushner become a major player in the New York market,’ says Hiten Samtani, executive editor at therealdeal.com, a real estate news publication.
HITEN SAMTANI: they already have about 20,000 apartments in the northeast. They have about 13 million square feet of commercial space. They are a very, very important real estate company with investors and lenders all over the country and international partners.
NORTHAM: but Daniel weiner, a senior attorney at the Brennan center for justice, says the commercial real estate world is often vague, involving shell companies and many foreign and unnamed investors.
DANIEL WEINER: many of the other way to earn money with other people very different, in part because it is a highly leveraged sector, this means that a leader in the real estate empire may owe a lot of different people money.
NORTHAM: Mr. Weiner says it’s normal, even templar, for a Kushner real estate developer in New York. But he said it could lead to serious conflicts of interest if the developer entered the White House’s influential position.
Weiner: because if someone is your creditor and they turn around and they need something from the federal government, it’s probably hard to say no. I’m not saying Mr. Kushner is the case, but that’s one of the problems.
NORTHAM: even the perception of conflict can cause problems. Take, for example, the purchase of the Manhattan skyscraper in 2007 by kushner. His company has been trying to make up for the building’s debt. The anbang insurance group, a Chinese financial giant with close ties to Beijing, recently struck a deal with anbang insurance group. One of kushner’s White House roles is overseeing diplomacy with China. Therealdeal.com’s Ms. Samtani says the terms have no financial implications for Anbang.
Ms. SAMTANI: Anbang is in talks with Kushner to invest in the property in New York real estate, which is a very favorable term for Kushner.
NORTHAM: the propaganda was terrible, and eventually the deal fell apart. Kushner gave up his stake in the skyscraper, but the family business still owns it. He sold a lot of assets and avoided the day-to-day operations of the company to avoid conflict. But he has yet to get rid of all the real estate business in New York. ‘before he does that, these problems may continue to plague kushner,’ said rob walker, a Washington lawyer specializing in political ethics.
ROB WALKER: getting rid of conflict and conflict will be a permanent responsibility and obligation for him and the White House professional ethics officer.
NORTHAM: on behalf of kushner law firm, said it was cooperating with government ethics office, in order to reduce potential areas of conflict, jared kushner has been to avoid possible problems. NPR’s Jackie Northam.
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