BEIJING (AFP) - White House senior advisor Jared Kushner's family business is courting wealthy Chinese to buy stakes in real estate through a controversial government programme that offers US residency in exchange for investment.
Kushner's sister Nicole Kushner Meyer was in Beijing Saturday, seeking US$150 million in investment in a luxury apartment complex project in New Jersey, according to US media reports.
Jared Kushner, 36, is a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump with far-reaching influence over domestic and foreign policy, and stepped down from the family company in January to serve in the administration.
However, eyebrows have been raised as the Chinese investment sought by his family is to be funnelled through the US EB-5 visa programme.
The programme offers foreign nationals permanent residency - commonly known as a green card - in exchange for investments of at least half a million dollars in a US business that must also create 10 American jobs.
The New York Times reported that the family business' investment drive is also "highlighting their ties to Mr Kushner as they court investors".
Speaking before more than 100 investors at Beijing's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Nicole Kushner Meyer said the project "means a lot to me and my entire family", and mentioned her brother's former role as chief executive of Kushner Companies, the report added.
Photographs of the event showed promotional posters bearing the slogan: "Government supports it; Celebrity property developer builds it."
Kushner Companies were also due to pitch for investment in Shanghai on Sunday and in the southern Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou next weekend, according to the events' organiser QWOS, a Chinese government-approved immigration agency.
The EB-5 programme was created in 1990 to help stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment from foreign nationals, but detractors say it puts citizenship up for sale.
Nearly 90 per cent of EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2014, when the programme reached its quota of 10,000 visas.
Last week, federal agents in California raided two homes and a business allegedly connected to a US$50 million visa fraud scheme that benefited up to 100 Chinese nationals.
Authorities said the key suspects in the case helped wealthy Chinese obtain US residency visas in exchange for bogus investments.