Multi-billion dollar deal between Kushner, Chinese insurance group collapses over ethics concerns

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A deal between Jared Kushner’s real estate business and China’s Anbang Insurance company has collapsed due to ethics concerns [Flickr]
A multi-billion dollar deal between first son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family business and China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co. has been scrapped due to ethics concerns, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

The lucrative 4 billion dollar deal between Anbang and Kushner’s Kushner Companies would have involved the redevelopment of a Manhattan office tower at the ominously-addressed 666 5th Avenue. The deal would also have refinanced loan fees of the struggling property, which is co-owned by the Kushner Companies, and had been losing money for the past three years.

Kushner Companies is no longer in discussions with Anbang about 666 5th Avenue’s potential redevelopment, and our firms have mutually agreed to end talks regarding the property,”a Kushner spokesman clarified in a statement.

“Kushner Companies remains in active, advanced negotiations around 666 5th Avenue with a number of potential investors.”

Lawmakers had expressed concerns that the deal represented a possible conflict of interest for Kushner, an anxiety that has hounded the nascent Trump administration both in relation to Kushner, his wife Ivanka, and the President himself.

In a March letter to White House deputy counsel Stefan Passantino, five Democratic legislators wrote that the Anbang-Kushner deal “would appear to present a clear conflict of interest,” as Anbang has “close ties to the Chinese state.”

The news that the deal is off the table arrives as Kushner himself is set to be questioned by Senate investigators over the Trump campaign’s possible ties with Russia.

Kushner’s wife, first daughter Ivanka Trump, is also under scrutiny for possible conflicts of interest. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Tom Carper dispatched a letter to the Office of Government Ethics Wednesday requesting information on how Trump, a businesswoman herself with her own clothing line,  is avoiding said conflicts.

“We write today to request information about the ethics rules that President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, will be required to comply with, or has indicated she will voluntarily comply with, in her role as an advisor to the President,” the senators wrote in the letter to OGE directer Walter Shaub.

Raising alarm bells about nepotism, Trump has granted his eldest daughter a West Wing office and high-level security clearance, though her exact job title has yet to be disclosed.

“I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life,” Ivanka Trump told Politico. “While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees.”

In January, President Trump said he would not divest from his own business, but would instead cede control to his sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

“I could actually run my business and run government at the same time,” the President said at the time. “I don’t like the way that looks, but I would be able to do that if I wanted to.”

The decision drew criticism from some, including former White House ethics adviser Norman Eisen, who predicted that Trump’s “ill-advised course will precipitate scandal and corruption.” 

03/29/2017 12:53 PM by Menachem Rephun

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