Ivanka Trump received at least S$17.2m since 2016, disclosure shows

 Ivanka Trump attends a CEO town hall on the American business climate in Washington
Ivanka Trump attends a CEO town hall on the American business climate in WashingtonPHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Ivanka Trump or her trust has received at least US$12.6 million (S$17.2 million) since early 2016 from her various business ventures and has an arrangement to guarantee her at least US$1.5 million a year, even as she serves in a top White House position, according to her first ethics disclosure made public late on Friday (July 21).

The report was released alongside an updated filing by her husband, Jared Kushner, who is also serving as a top adviser to President Donald Trump.

It shows that the couple benefit from an active business empire worth as much as US$761 million to them, an arrangement that ethics experts warn poses potentials for conflicts of interest as the couple have been given a wide-ranging portfolio of government responsibilities.

Ivanka Trump, who resigned from nearly 300 leadership positions at various entities within the family real estate businesses and at her fashion brand, has continued to receive millions of dollars from both streams, including more than US$2.4 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington and more than US$2.5 million in salary and severance from the Trump Organisation.

Trump received about $1.7 million in payments from T International Realty, the family's luxury brokerage agency, as well as two other real estate companies for various management, consulting and licensing work, the documents show. Those payments, for work done in 2016, were based on the companies' performance.

But going forward, she will receive fixed payments - a change that her advisers say was developed in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics to minimize her potential conflicts by removing her interest in how well her family's business performs.

In total, Trump will receive US$1.5 million in fixed payments from the same three real estate entities. She stands to earn additional income from her stake in the hotel in Washington.

The disclosures provided less specific figures for Trump's earnings from her fashion brand, which were reported in ranges. From the start of 2016 to May 31, she or her trust earned at least US$6 million from sales of her clothes, shoes and other accessories. Trump rolled her brand into the trust, which is overseen by Joshua Kushner and Nicole Meyer, her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, in March.

The income reported by Trump does not reflect expenses associated with the underlying businesses.

Those payments will keep coming, albeit into the trust. Trump also receives regular reports on the performance of her brand, which is overseen by its president, Abigail Klem.

Although the documents show Trump's personal assets, income and liabilities, they do not disclose her brand's fashion licensing partners, for example, or real estate clients. Such information is not required, demonstrating the limits of such disclosures for government officials with vast business interests.

"There still may be financial ties that we don't know about," said Lawrence M. Noble, a former general counsel and chief ethics officer of the Federal Election Commission. "These really weren't meant to deal with a situation where somebody's going to keep a major business interest."

Kushner divested his interests in some assets owned by his family's real estate firm, Kushner Cos., but he remains heavily invested in the bulk of the businesses.

The disclosures provide another clue into how active the multibillion-dollar Kushner family real estate business remains. Since March, companies in which he remains invested have closed several real estate deals across the country, including the sale of properties in Toledo, Ohio, for US$5 million to US$25 million and a purchase in Brooklyn, New York, also worth as much as US$25 million to him.

Kushner discussed the scope of his business in his first ethics report in March. In the amended filing released on Friday, he disclosed the existence of dozens of subsidiaries he had not reported previously, generally connected to entities he mentioned in that first report. In the first report, he stated that the couple's holdings were worth about US$736 million, about US$25 million less than in the updated report.

The documents also offered tidbits about less significant sources of Trump's income. She received US$50,000 for helping to oversee a trust belonging to children of Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of Twenty-First Century Fox, and his former wife Wendi Deng, her close friend. Trump resigned as a trustee last year.

She also received US$787,500 as an advance for her book, "Women Who Work," although it is not clear what portion of her total advance that represents.

In total, the couple reported as much as US$212 million in income since early 2016, according to new and previous filings. The bulk of that number comes from Kushner's holdings.

Ethics experts say the extensive holdings of the two pose potential conflicts of interest. Unlike Donald Trump, who is exempt from federal ethics laws, Kushner and Ivanka Trump are prohibited by those laws from taking any government action that might benefit their financial holdings.

Kushner and Trump both "walk a very fine line in having to step aside and recuse themselves from certain discussions and give advice if it would benefit them and their business personally," said Scott H. Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit organisation. "And we won't know if they are taking necessary steps to recuse themselves because, unfortunately, the ethics process requires a lot of self-policing," he said.

Jamie Gorelick, a partner at WilmerHale who is advising the couple on complying with government ethics requirements, said in a statement: "Jared and Ivanka have followed each of the required steps in their transition from private citizens to federal officials.

The Office of Government Ethics has certified Jared's financial disclosure, reflecting its determination that his approach complies with federal ethics laws. Ivanka's financial disclosure form is still in the pre-certification stage, as she began the process later, but discussions with OGE are proceeding in the ordinary course."

In just the first few months of the administration, the couple's business connections have raised questions. In February, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on live television and urged viewers to buy fashion products marketed by Ivanka Trump. And in May, Kushner's sister cited his White House connections when she visited China to solicit potential investors through a "visa for sale" programme run by the federal government for a development project in New Jersey to be built by the family's real estate firm.