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.
The event itself encouraged Chinese investors to do business with Kushner properties with the incentive of coming to the USA on a visa program given to those who spend at least $500,000 in property investment.
Nicole Meyer, Kushner's sister, said Monday through a spokesperson that she was sorry if anyone misinterpreted her mention of her brother. "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 [President Donald] Trump's staff". "That was not Ms. Meyer's intention".
The Kushner family are in China raising funds for their Kushner 1 (One Journal Square) project in New Jersey with the help of Qiaowai, a Chinese company which connects United States developers with Chinese investors.
After seeing advertisements for what was described as a "Kushner event featuring Jared's sister", an American reporter chose to attend. The EB-5 program has come under fire by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. In 2014, 85 percent of investor visas were issued to Chinese applicants.
The Times story said Meyer did not respond when asked if she was concerned about possible conflicts of interest facing her brother.
Javier Hernandez, the New York Times' China correspondent, was escorted from Saturday's session at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Beijing. With the clock ticking until the program's new expiration date, September 30, the president has a chance to get behind efforts to end the hopelessly inefficient and corruption-prone EB-5 program before it causes more embarrassment. The tagline on a brochure read, "Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States".More news: LA produces compelling Olympic transport plan: IOC
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Companies run by Kushner's family later apologized for pitching connections to the White House adviser.
"The whole thing may change later this year so we feel that there isn't much time left", he said.
Kushner's personal attorney, Blake Roberts of the WilmerHale law firm, said in a statement that Kushner has "no involvement" in the operation of the Kushner Companies. Some 20 years earlier, Charles started the company with the help of assets from the construction company built by his father, Joseph Kushner. In 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, the USA issued over 10,000 such visas-and 85% of them went to people from China.
"As previously stated, he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program".
Workers wait for investors during an event promoting EB-5 investment.
"This crass effort by the Kushner family to raise large amounts of funding in China and to use government "investment visas" as incentives for wealthy Chinese individuals to invest in the Kushner family business is clearly meant to create the appearance that Jared Kushner and his family can be influential in their obtaining investor visas to the United States", wrote Fred Wertheimer, president of the ethics watchdog Democracy 21, in a letter Monday to the Office of Government Ethics. He played an instrumental role in arranging the meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that took place at Trump's private club in Florida last month.