US Securities and Exchange Commission probing Kushner Cos' use of wealthy investor visas: Reports

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Kushner Cos, the real estate company owned by the family of Jared Kushner (pictured).
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Kushner Cos, the real estate company owned by the family of Jared Kushner (pictured).PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - The real estate company of the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for its use of a federal programme that grants visas to wealthy foreigners investing in the US, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday (Jan 6).

Two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg the Commission and prosecutors for New York's Eastern District issued subpoenas to Kushner Cos. in May seeking details about its use of what's known as the EB-5 programme.

Kushner was chief executive officer of Kushner Cos. until he stepped down and divested some of his investments to family members when he joined the administration.

SEC spokeswoman Judith Burns did not immediately return an email from Bloomberg seeking comment.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for the Eastern District of New York, declined to comment.

Kushner Cos was asked by the SEC for information on its use of the EB-5 visa programme in May 2017, according to a person the Journal said was familiar with the matter.

Kushner Cos was asked by the SEC for information on its use of the visa programme, known as EB-5, in May 2017, according to a person the Journal said was familiar with the matter.

The EB-5 visa is a method for eligible immigrants to become lawful permanent residents, or "green card" holders, by investing at least US$500,000 (S$663,425) into a business in the United States that will employ 10 or more American workers. Most holders are wealthy Chinese individuals.

The Journal said the company also received a separate request from New York federal prosecutors in the same month for information on development projects financed in part by the EB-5 programme.

Kushner, the White House and New York prosecutors did not reply to requests for comment from Reuters.

"As we said months ago, we are cooperating with all government requests for information about our past legal use of the EB-5 program," a Kushner Cos representative said in a statement to Reuters.

The exact subject of the SEC's inquiry, or whether it identified particular projects, is not clear, the Journal reported.

It couldn't be determined what the SEC is reviewing, and the agency hasn't accused Kushner Cos. of any wrongdoing.

The Kushners' use of EB-5 visas to raise cash to finance developments came to broad attention in May last year, when Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner, spoke at a publicly advertised event in Shanghai to attract Chinese investment into a two-tower luxury apartment complex in New Jersey, called One Journal Square, being developed jointly by Kushner Cos and KABR Group.

The company later apologised for mentioning Jared Kushner's name while wooing investors.

The developers were seeking to raise US$150 million, or 15.4 per cent of funding for the project, from investors through the EB-5 visa programme, according to marketing materials posted by the event's organiser, immigration agency Qiaowai, Reuters reported at the time.

Kushner Cos is not a publicly traded company but the EB-5 is considered a securities offering, the Journal said, hence the SEC's interest.

Kushner resigned from his role leading Kushner Cos when he was appointed Trump's senior White House adviser early last year but still owns a stake in parts of the business, according to his most recent personal financial disclosure form, the Journal said.