Kushners apologize for name-dropping Jared to Chinese investors

The visas, called the EB-5 immigrant investor program, were thrust into the spotlight over the weekend when reports surfaced from an investment conference in China that Kushner's family business was pitching the program to wealthy Chinese investors - and mentioned President Donald Trump's son-in-law's name and new title.

On Friday, President Donald Trump extended the controversial EB-5 program that allows visas to be fast-tracked in exchange for investment in US properties.

Saturday's event, which was organized by Chinese immigration company Qiaowai, was held to raise money for 1 Journal Square, a $976.4 million residential and commercial project.

"In the course of discussing this project and the firm's history with potential investors, Ms Meyer wanted to make clear that her brother had stepped away from the company in January and has nothing to do with this project", the firm said. The deal offers visas in exchange for $500,000 of investment.

Jared Kushner divested from his family's company when he took a role in the White House.

Almost 90 percent of EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2014, when the program reached its quota of 10,000 visas.

The program has always been criticized by lawmakers as a path that in essence sells United States citizenships to wealthy foreigners.

Representatives of Chinese government-approved immigration agency QWOS, which hosted the investment drive, pointedly dropped the name of Trump's daughter Ivanka, who is Jared Kushner's wife and popular in China.

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Journalists who attended a sales pitch in Beijing on Saturday - before they were ejected by the organizers - said that Meyer mentioned her brother during the presentation, which included a photo of President Trump identifying him as a key-decision maker on the fate of the EB-5 program.

Nicole Meyer cited her brother's service to the company, which he led as chief executive until January.

Meyer was in China looking for investors for a Kushner real estate project in Jersey City.

Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit watchdog group, said he was skeptical of that explanation. In September 2015, the Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that 44,000 people, a third of them foreign investors and the rest family members, had qualified since 1992. The company's foreign partners would understandably jump at the chance to push any perceived connections to the White House.

It added that the administration is "exploring the possibility of raising the price of the visa to further bring the program in line with its intent". Before transitioning to the White House, Jared Kushner was said to have raised USD50 million for a Trump-branded apartment complex from Chinese EB-5 applicants, Bloomberg reports. The company says about 15% of it will be funded through the EB-5 program.

An attorney representing Kushner told the WSJ that "the Cadre stake is described in a revised version of his disclosure form that will be made public after it has been certified by ethics officials" and that he has "resigned from Cadre's board, assigned his voting rights and reduced his ownership share".

"Senator Schumer strongly supports bipartisan legislation that would crack down on fraud, abuse, and improper influence within the EB-5 program", said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer.

  • Sonia Alvarado