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US Developer With Trump Connection Courting Chinese Investors

  • Ken Bredemeier

A projector screen shows a footage of U.S. President Donald Trump as workers wait for investors at a reception desk during an event promoting EB-5 investment in a Kushner Companies development at a hotel in Shanghai, China, May 7, 2017.

The sister of U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law is in China courting wealthy people to invest $500,000 in luxury apartment towers outside New York City as part of a program that would grant them permanent U.S. residency.

Nicole Kushner Meyer, the sister of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, one of the president's top White House advisers, spoke Sunday to potential investors in Shanghai after making the same pitch the day before in Beijing. Meyer told more than 100 people at a Beijing hotel that the $976 million project — twin 66-story towers with nearly 1,500 apartments — "means a lot to me and my entire family."

She mentioned that her brother formerly was chief executive of the Kushner Companies, a position he resigned as he and his wife, Trump's oldest daughter Ivanka, moved to Washington and joined Trump's staff.

Jared Kushner, to avoid business conflicts with his White House role, divested himself of parts of his family business as he assumed his White House role, including a connection with One Journal Square project in Jersey City, New Jersey that his sister was promoting.

There was no visible mention of Jared Kushner's link to Trump at the Beijing event, but promotional posters bore the slogan, "Government supports it; Celebrity property developer builds it."

FILE - China's first lady Peng Liyuan talks with Trump Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as they attend a dinner at the start of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida.
FILE - China's first lady Peng Liyuan talks with Trump Senior Adviser Jared Kushner as they attend a dinner at the start of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Meyer was looking for investors under the U.S. EB-5 visa program, which gives wealthy foreign investors permanent American residency if they invest at least a half million dollars in a U.S. business that creates 10 jobs.

One brochure promoting the apartment towers said, "Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States."

Trump has called for a sharp overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, but his focus has been aimed at thwarting illegal migrants from crossing its southern border with Mexico with construction of a wall. In a funding measure Trump signed last week to keep the U.S. government running through the end of September, there is money for additional border security, but not the wall.

Funding for the investor visa program remains intact but congressional critics have attacked it in the past as rife with fraud, with investment money supposedly targeted at improving life in impoverished communities ending up instead being used to build projects in affluent neighborhoods.

One speaker at Saturday's event urged would-be investors to "invest early, and you will invest under the old rules," in case U.S. lawmakers change regulations with the visas.

The EB-5 visas have proved particularly popular among wealthy Chinese, who in 2014 accounted for nearly 90 percent of the 10,000 of the visas the U.S. approved that year, although its share dropped to about 75 percent last year. Some Chinese refer to the residency authorization as a "golden visa."

It was not immediately known whether any of the wealthy people who listened to the Kushner company pitch in Beijing decided to invest. Kushner officials are also making more presentations next weekend in the southern cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

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