Tue, May 09, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Reporters barred from Kushner firm China event

VISA FOR INVESTMENT:A lawyer for Jared Kushner said he is not involved in the firm’s operation and had divested his interests in the real-estate project

Reuters, SHANGHAI

Nicole Kushner Meyer, center, the sister of US White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, and her husband, Joseph Meyer, look on during a promotional event in Shanghai on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Organizers on Sunday barred journalists from a publicly advertised event in Shanghai that offered Chinese investors the chance to get US immigrant visas if they put money in a real-estate project linked to the family of US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law.

The two-tower luxury apartment complex in New Jersey, One Journal Square, is being developed by KABR Group and the Kushner Companies, which until recently was headed by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

The developers are seeking to raise US$150 million, or 15.4 percent of funding for the project, from investors through the EB-5 visa program, according to marketing materials posted by the event’s organizer, immigration agency Qiaowai (僑外移民).

The controversial EB-5 program allows wealthy foreigners to, in effect, buy US immigration visas for themselves and families by investing at least US$500,000 in certain development projects.

“Sorry, this is a private event,” said a man stopping journalists from entering a function room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Shanghai.

Guests at the event said Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, spoke for about 10 minutes, including about her family’s humble roots.

According to the New York Times, Meyer attended a similar event in Beijing on Saturday and told the audience of about 100 people the project “means a lot to me and my entire family.”

Jared Kushner, whose White House portfolio includes relations with China, sold his stake in Kushner Companies to a family trust early this year.

“Mr Kushner has no involvement in the operation of Kushner Companies and divested his interests in the One Journal Square project by selling them to a family trust that he, his wife, and his children are not beneficiaries of, a mechanism suggested by the Office of Government Ethics,” his lawyer, Blake Roberts of WilmerHale law firm, said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters by the White House.

“As previously stated, he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program,” it said.

A Kushner Companies spokeswoman declined to comment in a New York Times article about the Beijing event published on Saturday.

The Times story said Meyer did not respond when asked if she was concerned about possible conflicts of interest facing her brother. Journalists from the Times and the Washington Post were removed from Saturday’s Beijing event, the newspapers reported.

One potential investor, Sophie Xing, said a “very important” factor in her decision to attend Sunday’s event was the fact the project was a Kushner Companies investment and that Trump’s son-in-law’s sister would be in Shanghai.

“Actually I really don’t know how close they are, but I felt that this was a pretty good project,” she said.

In a promotional text message seen by Reuters, Qiaowai made note of Meyer’s relationship to Trump and called her the event’s “heavyweight honored guest.”

Qiaowai representatives at the event declined to answer questions from journalists and calls to its listed phone number went unanswered.

Qiaowai is also known as QWOS. 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 is popular among wealthy Chinese looking to shift assets abroad or move overseas, but it has come under fire in the US.

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