- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating Kushner Companies for its use of a controversial visa program.
- The company is owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
- This isn’t the first time Kushner Companies has come under scrutiny.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched a probe into Kushner Companies, the New York real-estate firm owned by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The investigation reportedly focuses on the company’s use of the EB-5 visa program, which allows 10,000 immigrant visas each year in an effort to promote investment from foreign countries into less-developed regions or create jobs in the US.
Foreigners who invest at least $US500,000 in US businesses and plan “to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs” in the US are eligible to apply for the program, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A lawyer representing Kushner Companies told The Journal that the business “utilised the program, fully complied with its rules and regulations, and did nothing improper.”
In May, The Associated Press found that Chinese investors had spent at least $US7.7 billion – and received more than 40,000 US visas in return – thanks to the EB-5 program in the last decade.
That same month, the Kushners’ company held an event at a ritzy hotel in Beijing to encourage Chinese investments for a development project in New Jersey.
“Invest $US500,000 and immigrate to the United States,” read a brochure at the event, The Washington Post reported.
At the time, critics pointed out the potential for a conflict of interest considering Kushner’s relationship with Trump. Although Kushner resigned from his company upon taking the job at the White House, he still owns a minority stake in the business.
“It’s incredibly stupid and highly inappropriate,” Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer in the Bush administration, told the Post. “They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa … They’re [Chinese applicants] not going to take a chance. Of course they’re going to want to invest.”
A spokesperson for Kushner Companies later apologised for the poor optics, but just two months later, CNN reported that the business was again invoking Kushner’s status as a senior White House aide to attract investors.
The SEC probe isn’t the first time Kushner Companies has fallen under scrutiny. Last year, federal prosecutors subpoenaed the business for more information about its development projects. In November, prosecutors also sought to obtain the company’s records from Deutsche Bank, which has lent hundreds of millions over the years to the Kushner family, as well as to Trump.