Top White House aide and President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly attempted to seek a half-billion dollar investment from an investor in Qatar, which is currently in hot dispute with multiple Middle Eastern countries and American allies.
Kushner reportedly was seeking relief for an investment his company made in 2007 on a 41-story building at 666 Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan in New York, according to The Intercept.
He spent $1.7 billion on the property, reports NY Mag, including $500 million of his own money and $1.3 billion in borrowed money, purchasing it for more than twice its last selling price and just before the housing bubble burst. Since then, the building has generated at most two-thirds of the revenue needed to keep up with Kushner’s payments on the property.
After the housing crisis began, the Kushners had to sell the building’s retail space to pay debts on the building and then give up half the office space to the company Vornado in a refinancing agreement. The space they currently own is worth less than the $1.2 billion mortgage they have on the property.
Between 2015 and 2016, Kushner and his father negotiated with former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, known as HBJ for short, to refinance the property.
HBJ is one of the world’s richest men and one of Qatar’s top real estate investors. The country’s former emir said, “I may run this country, but [HBJ] owns it,” according to Intercept, who broke the story about the investment request.
HBJ agreed to invest $500 million through his investment firm in 2016, Intercept reported. “HBJ basically told them, we’re good for 500, subject to a lot of things, but mainly subject to [Kushner] being able to raise the rest,” said one source that Intercept did not identify.
Since Trump was elected, however, multiple parties have expressed interest in the deal, including Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group. A deal between Kushner and Anbang was reported, where the firm would put up $400 million of the money for the building, while Kushner had already found additional investors who pledged close to $2 billion.
Larry Nobel, the Campaign Legal Center’s general counsel, said the Chinese’s firm’s deal seemed on its face to be too convenient for the Kushners.
“At the very least, this raises serious questions about the appearance of a conflict that arises from the possibility that the Kushners are getting a sweetheart deal.”
However, two weeks after the story broke, Anbang pulled out of the deal.
The United States, under President Donald Trump, has called on the Middle East to criticize Qatar’s willingness to fund terrorist organizations like the Muslim brotherhood and Hamas, as well as Iran.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well as 50 mostly Muslim majority countries, issued a joint statement condemning Qatar’s funding of such organizations.
Trump soon took to Twitter praise the action and take credit.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look! So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!” he wrote June 6 in a series of tweets.
However, the FBI soon concluded that some messages that implicated Qatar as a supporter of Iran were actually fake messages from Russian hackers looking to destabilize the Qatari government’s international position, according to the Daily Mail.
On June 9, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Middle Eastern nations to end their blockade with Qatar as a result of the new information. However, Trump doubled down on his assertion that Qatar has “historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level.”
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]