The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an inquiry into the business practices of Kushner Cos. for its use of the federal visa EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
Kushner Cos. is a New York real estate firm owned and operated by the family of President Trump’s son-in-law and White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner.
Under a 1990 law, foreign entrepreneurs, spouses and their unmarried children are eligible to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. for investment in commercial enterprise or if they create 10 permanent jobs for qualified U.S. workers. Chinese citizens are the issued the largest number of EB-5 visas yearly.
News of the investigation came a day before the New York Times reported Sunday that Kushner Cos. received $30 million from a Tel-Aviv-based insurance company, Menora Mivtachim, previous to Jared Kushner accompanying Trump on a diplomatic trip to Israel in 2017.
The Menora money was apparently used to fund 10 Kushner-owned apartment complexes in Maryland, a development Jared Kushner’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, says his client was not aware of.
“Connecting any of his well-publicized trips to the Middle East to anything to do with Kushner Companies or its businesses is nonsensical and is a stretch to write a story where none actually exists,“ Lowell said in a statement.
While no violations of federal law seem to have been violated, Washington-based government ethics experts, say the existence of Kushner’s family business holdings may be effecting his judgement as a public servant and that ethics laws were not written with New York real estate moguls in mind.
“No one could ever imagine this scale of ongoing business interests, not in a local peanut farm or a hardware store but sprawling global businesses that give the president and his top adviser personal economic stakes in an astounding number of policy interests,” said Robert Weissman of non-profit watchdog Public Citizen.
As to the SEC, it is speculated the probe is connected to a May 2017 subpoena requesting information from Kushner’s firm detailing its use of the business-related visa program.
Shortly after the subpoena was issued, federal prosecutors in New York City issued a separate subpoena asking for the specifics of a Kushner Cos. development project in New Jersey ties to the firm’s use of the EB-5 program.
Married to Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, Kushner was instrumental in managing the family’s real estate firm prior to accepting a role in the Trump administration.
Since joining the White House as a senior adviser, Kushner has been involved in a broad range of domestic and foreign matters, but has been specifically tasked with the responsibility of reviving negotiations to being about a resolution to the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
[Wall Street Journal] [New York Times] [Photo courtesy BBC]