Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Kushners use controversial EB-5 visa program to finance their developments

Kenny Thornton | 20 May, 2017, 03:30

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner's family business is courting wealthy Chinese to buy stakes in real estate through a controversial government programme that offers USA residency in exchange for investment.

The program offers foreign nationals permanent residency - commonly known as a green card - in exchange for investments of at least US$500,000 in a USA business that must also create 10 United States jobs.

CNN Money reported that Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, spoke at the event on Saturday in Beijing and was seeking wealthy investors for a Kushner-owned property in New Jersey - One Journal Square, a residential and commercial project underway in New Jersey.

The other participant, Bi, who is pregnant, said she was considering immigrating to America to give her child an academic environment that is "more relaxing; where one can pursue real interests and where the child can do something that they really want to do". In crowded urban zones, developers have been found to gerrymander projects to allow them to offer the lower investment amount.

Meyer made the same pitch in Shanghai on Sunday, according to the Times.

In return, the investors would qualify for an EB-5 investor visa, a fast track to permanent legal residence in the United States.

Kushner Companies has apologized after Nicole Kushner Meyer (right) mentioned her brother Jared (left) at an investors event in China.

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But the most problematic aspect of this business pitch is the potential conflict of interest that it poses for Kushner, who now serves as a senior advisor to President Trump. With the clock ticking until the program's new expiration date, September 30, the president has a chance to get behind efforts to end the hopelessly inefficient and corruption-prone EB-5 program before it causes more embarrassment.

During Meyers' speech, reporters for the Times and the Washington Post were asked to leave after being told it was a "private event", though it had been publicly advertised. A Kushner Companies spokesperson said the statement was to make clear that Kushner was not involved in the company, rather than as a ploy to raise money.

The disturbing events also shed light on Trump's own conflicts when it comes to USA visa programs like EB-5. 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.

In a promotional text message seen by Reuters, Qiaowai made note of Meyer's relationship to Trump and called her the event's "heavyweight honoured guest".

Liu said he had been to previous pitches for EB-5 investments but had concerns about the risks. The reforms included efforts to revive that the program's original intent of providing investment in rural and distressed urban areas.

Before taking on his role in the White House, Jared Kushner sold his stake in Kushner Companies to a family trust. "It appears that Jared Kushner's family business is using his name and his official position to bring in investment".

(Answer: They can't.) The only way to stop the conflict might be to stop the EB-5 program altogether, as Sen.

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