Revelations that the sister of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, promoted a program offering a path to US citizenship to Chinese backers in a Kushner family project bring new scrutiny to a foreign investor visa program.
The Kushner family told a group of 100 wealthy Chinese investors Saturday that they could secure immigration visas to the USA with an investment of half a million dollars, several media outlets revealed.
The Kushner family are in China raising funds for their Kushner 1 (One Journal Square) project in New Jersey with the help of Qiaowai, a Chinese company which connects United States developers with Chinese investors. That was not Ms. Meyer's intention.
She mentioned her brother's service as chief executive of Kushner Companies, the family business from which he resigned in January, saying he had left to serve in the Trump administration...
That's the line White House senior adviser Jared Kushner's sister Nicole Meyer allegedly pitched to Chinese investors. It noted the program offers immigrants "a path to a green card if they invest more than $500,000 in a project that creates jobs in the U.S".
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"They clearly imply that the Kushners are going to make sure you get your visa", he told the Washington Post. Kushner cofounded and partly owns the real-estate tech startup called Cadre, and Soros and Thiel, "as well as other billionaires' firms, also have stakes in the company, which is based in a Manhattan building owned by the Kushner family's company, according to people close to Cadre", report Jean Eaglesham, Juliet Chung and Lisa Schwartz.
Some event attendees told the newspapers that the Kushner firm's connection to the White House was a selling point.
A similar meeting was held in Shanghai on Sunday.
Seto Bagdoyan, who monitors the program at the Government Accountability Office, says problems with some foreign EB-5 investors have led to criminal investigations. The New Jersey building makes use of an EB-5 visa program to draw in global investors, including the Chinese.
Guests at the event said Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, spoke for about 10 minutes, including about her family's humble roots.
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It underscores the extent to which Kushner's private business interests have the potential to collide with his powerful role as a top official in his father-in-law's White House, particularly when it comes to China, where Kushner has become a crucial diplomatic channel between Beijing and the new administration, the report said.
The New York Times reported that the family business' investment drive is also "highlighting their ties to Mr Kushner as they court investors".
Funding for the investor visa program remains intact but congressional critics have attacked it in the past as rife with fraud, with investment money supposedly targeted at improving life in impoverished communities ending up instead being used to build projects in affluent neighborhoods.
The visa program is especially popular among rich Chinese desperate to move their assets out of their country amid an economic slowdown.
But soaring Chinese demand in recent years has made the visas increasingly hard to obtain.
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"You would think if they are going to take part in a marketing event for one of their properties, that they would want to see the PowerPoint", he said.