Spicer: Kushner 'Not Involved' in Family's Chinese EB-5 Visa Pitch

Pauline Gross
May 20, 2017

The real estate development firm partly managed by the sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has issued an apology over a weekend event in Beijing in which Kushner's name was used to attract wealthy Chinese to a cash-for-visa scheme commonly used by investment-hungry US real estate developers.

The EB-5 program, known as the "golden visa" in China, gives people investing more than $500,000 in a project that creates jobs in the USA a path to a green card.

Bi said Kushner's sister Meyer spoke for more than 10 minutes, describing the history of the Kushner family and the highlights of the project.

On Sunday, the Kushner Companies, of which Nicole Meyer is a principal, said in an email to the Post that it "apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors".

Kushner Companies distanced itself from the photo Monday, insisting that the image "was part of a presentation by the event's organizers".

Jared Kushner's family is reportedly wooing wealthy Chinese investors with a promise of USA residency in exchange for six-figure investments in their luxury real estate deals.

A poster for the Kushner Cos. event in Shanghai on Sunday. And the sell in Beijing involved a controversial visa program known as EB-5.

Before Kushner joined the Trump administration as a senior adviser, the news agency added, his family firm raised some $50 million through the EB-5 program for a Trump-branded luxury apartment building in New Jersey.

She has long called for the program to end, citing reports of rampant fraud and abuse. The event was open to the public, but reporters from the Washington Post and New York Times were reportedly asked to leave, CNN revealed.

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

The program, which has been around since 1990, is big business for developers like Kushner Companies, whose former CEO, Jared Kushner, is President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser.

Some of the changes include raising the threshold of money required to benefit from the program, from $500,000 to $1.35 million for the minimum level, and to tighten the requirements to qualify as a "Targeted Employment Area" - to ensure that such designations are reserved for areas that actually would benefit high unemployment areas.

Blake Roberts, an attorney at the law firm of WilmerHale, which is Kushner's personal counsel, said Kushner has no involvement in the operation of Kushner Companies.

Workers wait for investors during an event promoting EB-5 investment.

Those apartments were also developed by Kushner Companies, and about a quarter of the funding - around US$50 million - was obtained via EB-5 investment, according to a report previous year by Bloomberg News.

The visa program is especially popular among rich Chinese desperate to move their assets out of their country amid an economic slowdown.

At Saturday's event, attendee Wang Yun, a Chinese investor, said the Kushner family's ties to Trump were an obvious part of the project's appeal.

Reforms to the EB-5 program have been proposed recently, by the way, but the main idea isn't to shut down the program or increase the numerical threshold for jobs created for qualifying projects.

KEITH: The Kushner family's attention-grabbing pitch meeting came just a day after President Trump signed a government funding bill that again reauthorized the EB-5 program without addressing any of the senator's concerns.

Other reports by GizPress

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