Filings show Ivanka Trump, husband Jared benefiting from business empire

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are both officially close advisers to US President Donald Trump.
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are both officially close advisers to US President Donald Trump. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST) – Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner have held onto real estate and business investments valued in the hundreds of millions, while working government jobs, according to ethics filings released late  on Friday (March 31) by the White House.

The documents show that the couple, who are both officially close advisers to the president, are still getting income from holdings valued at between US$240 million (S$335.3 million) and US$740 million.

The disclosures came in a White House mass document release showing the wealth and financial assets of scores of senior staff members at the time they began government work.

The broad White House document release also included the assets of Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, and Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who heads the White House National Economic Council. 

Ivanka Trump – who just days prior announced she would officially enter a federal role as an unpaid adviser to the US president – will hang on to her stake in the Trump International Hotel, located blocks from the White House.

According to her husband’s disclosure that stake is worth between US$5 million and US$25 million. Between January 2016 and March 2017 she made between US$1 million and US$5 million in rent or royalties from the hotel, the documents showed.

Since winning the November election Donald Trump’s vast business empire has been scrutinised by ethics experts who say it poses major conflicts of interest.

Critics have voiced fear that interest groups or foreign governments might stay at the luxury Trump hotel in Washington to get in the administration’s good graces.

Kushner was recently tapped by his Republican father-in-law to lead a new White House office that aims to use business ideas to help streamline the government, according to the Washington Post.

The 36-year-old is a senior adviser to Trump with far-reaching influence over domestic and foreign policy.

Kushner left high-level positions at more than 200 entities related to his family’s real estate business, according to the documents, but will continue to reap benefits from many holdings related to the business empire he ran with his father.

BANNON’S EARNINGS 

The Trump administration is considered one of the wealthiest in US history – Bloomberg estimates his cabinet and senior staff are worth some US$12 billion.

White House ethics officials said the legally required disclosure documents provided a snapshot of assets and positions held by personnel when they first entered their new jobs at the White House, and before they started selling stocks and other assets that could pose conflicts of interest.

According to the disclosures, Bannon earned at least US$917,000  in the last 12 months, more than half of which came from Breitbart News and other entities backed by the conservative Mercer family.

The forms also showed how Breitbart News has served as a pipeline for the White House, with the site's payments to Bannon and two other staffers, Bannon aide Julia Hahn and National Security Council aide Sebastian Gorka, totaling more than US$246,000 over the past year.

The filings show that Bannon drew at least US$545,000 in the last year from four ventures backed by the wealthy Mercer family, underscoring how deeply emeshed he has been with the influential Trump mega-donors.

He was paid US$191,000 in consulting fees by Breitbart News Network, where he served as executive chairman until joining the Trump campaign in August. That is a significant drop from 2013, when Bannon reported on a rental application that he was making US$750,000 at the website .

Last year, Bannon earned another US$167,500 for consulting and directing by Glittering Steel, the production company he launched with Rebekah Mercer that financed the documentary "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich." 

Cambridge Analytica, a data science company that worked for Trump's campaign, paid Bannon US$125,333 in consulting for his work as vice president and secretary of the board. And the Government Accountability Institute, an investigative think tank whose president wrote the book that that eventually became the documentary gave Bannon a US$61,539 salary as chairman.

Bannon was paid US$100,000 in directing fees from a production company affiliated with the advocacy group Citizens United.

And he reported earning between US$50,001 and US$100,000 from Société Générale, stemming from a partnership Bannon formed with the French banking giant in 1996. Bannon, who specialised at the time in media investment banking, sold his firm - Bannon and Co - to a subsidiary of the French bank in 1998. The French company worked closely with Bannon on a variety of deals, including one in which Bannon represented Polygram, a music and film company that was sold to Seagram's.

The strategist had significant cash reserves as he headed into the White House, reporting at least US$1.1 million in three different US bank accounts.

The White House also disclosed that Gary Cohn, former Goldman Sachs president and now head of the White House National Economic Council, had assets worth at least US$230 million, but possibly much more. Little information was given on several of his assets and only indicated they were worth more than US$1 million.

Reed Cordish, assistant to the president for intragovernmental and technology initiatives, disclosed pre-White House assets of between US$92 million and US$798 million. He had income of between US$48 million and US$55 million.

Meanwhile, Kellyanne Conway, counsellor to the president, earned nearly US$850,000 in the past year and held assets worth between US$10 million and as much as US$39 million.