Ever since Donald Trump took office, there have been serious concerns about conflict of interest and his ability to make decisions independently as a President and not as a businessman. Despite the repeated calls by lawmakers and critics, Donald Trump did not fully divest from his business empire.
A new report has revealed that Trump profits from a business deal with a real estate developer in India. Interestingly, the firm has close ties to the Indian government. The ruling party in India at present is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Firm’s Connection to Indian Government
The firm in question is Lodha Group, founded by Mangal Lodha who is one of the major shareholders in the company. He is a vice president of the BJP party and MLA from Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, the financial capital of India.
He is a senior party figure in Maharashtra, and being an MLA has a lot of influence in decision-making. Notably, his political manifesto has a slogan which may sound familiar: “Making Mumbai Great Again.” According to Shailesh Kumar, senior Asia analyst in New York at Eurasia Group,
“If you’re the vice president of a party that’s ruling a given state, by default you’re going to have a load of influence over decision-making.”
Like several Indian politicians and citizens, Mangal Lodha considers Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi as his role model. His website includes several pictures of himself with the Indian Prime Minister.
Donald Trump’s Conflict Of Interest
Lodha group is Partner of Donald Trump organization in Mumbai and will be selling high-priced condominiums at Trump Towers, as reported by Livemint. They will resume the sale of the Condos next week, coinciding with Indian Prime Minister’s visit to U.S.
Donald Trump and Narendra Modi will discuss several key issues next week that will have huge implications on U.S. At the same time, Trump’s business organization is accepting huge payments from a firm that has strong ties to the Indian government.
Such a situation raises serious questions whether Trump’s decisions will be influenced as he stands to profit from his foreign policy decision. At present, there are three lawsuits that accuse Trump of accepting payments from foreign governments and violating the U.S. Constitution, as reported by the Bloomberg. His critics are calling for an investigation into the alleged accusation.
The Firm Denies Any Conflict of Interest
According to President’s financial disclosure, Mr. Lodha paid close to $5 million to President Trump and his organization for the licensing deal. However, Mr. Abhishek Lodha, who is currently handling the family business of Lodha group, believes there is no conflict of interest.
Abhishek clarifies that Trump has not been involved in his company since he took office. He further added, “Mr. Trump becoming president and the Trump’s organization relationship with us is completely independent, and any attempts to link the two are not grounded on facts.”
Government ethics experts say any sizable debt represents a potential conflict of interest for a president https://t.co/gnn7Cdeeub
— NPR (@NPR) June 20, 2017
Since President Trump has refused to divest, such a situation could be a clear conflict of interest. It raises doubts whether president’s decisions are influenced by his business or national interests.
While Donald Trump may or may not be under investigation, this report hints at another chapter that could create more problems for the administration.
[Featured Image by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]