As Donald Trump battles to build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the real estate company owned by the family of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and its link to a lucrative federal visa program, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The EB-5 visa program provides green cards to immigrants who invest a minimum of $500,000 in certain American businesses. The Associated Press reported last year that wealthy Chinese spent $7.7 billion obtaining 40,000 of the “golden visas” in the U.S. in the last decade.
The SEC in May subpoenaed records from Kushner Cos. concerning its links to the program, according to the Journal. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, meanwhile, began to examine company projects funded through the program. The probes involve twin, 66-story office and housing towers in New Jersey, sources told the Journal.
Emily Wolf, attorney for Kushner Cos., told the newspaper that the company “did utilize the program,” but that it “fully complied with its rules and regulations and did nothing improper.”
Though Kushner, a senior White House adviser, stepped down from running the company, he still maintains a stake in projects.
According to his most recent financial filing, he remains an investor in New Jersey’s Trump Bay Street development in Jersey City, which also benefitted from the EB-5 program, the Journal reported. Kushner has reported receiving up to $5 million from the Jersey project that’s the target of the SEC probe, according to the newspaper.
As part of a marketing campaign targeting Beijing and Shanghai, Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, urged wealthy Chinese last year to invest in the Kushner New Jersey project in return for a green card. People were told that as many as 300 individuals who invested $500,000 each into the project could be eligible for green cards, the Journal reported. Most of the 10,000 EB-5 visas issued each year go to rich Chinese immigrants, according to the newspaper.
During a marketing presentation in China in May, Jared Kushner’s name and White House status were invoked, and a photo of Trump was used in the pitch. The Kushner family later apologized, saying it hadn’t intended to capitalize on the role of the president’s son-in-law in the White House as part of the presentation.
The visa program has been attacked for ignoring low-income immigrants while essentially selling green cards to the well-heeled.