By Anjali Kamat
The New Republic (3/21/18)
Investigations into Donald Trump’s foreign entanglements may have largely begun with Russia, but the president and his family have a special relationship with India, too. Since Donald Trump and his children first began talks with developers in India, around 2007, the Trump Organization has entered into more deals there than in any other foreign country. Five of them are still active—four luxury residential projects and one commercial tower—and are valued at an estimated $1.5 billion.
Donald Trump Jr. has made at least ten trips to India over the past decade, calling the country “the biggest push for our organization.” His most recent visit was a headline-grabbing jaunt in February. In the days leading up to his four-day, four-city tour, all of the leading English-language newspapers in New Delhi carried full front-page ads featuring an image of Donald Jr., asking, “TRUMP HAS ARRIVED. HAVE YOU?” and, “TRUMP IS HERE. ARE YOU INVITED?” Anyone who, by midweek, had put down a deposit of about $39,000 on an apartment in the newest Trump Tower India project, located just outside New Delhi, would be invited to a Friday night dinner with him. Before Donald Jr.’s private jet had even landed in the Indian capital, sales reached $15 million, according to a local business TV station.
The Trump Organization has more deals in India than in any other foreign country, with five still active, and valued at an estimated $1.5 billion.
Donald Jr. was also expected to deliver a policy address on “Indo-Pacific” cooperation to business leaders and politicians at a major conference in the city. He changed his plans when ethicists and former government officials in the United States questioned whether the son of the American president should serve as a sort of informal government envoy on a trip to help promote a real estate venture. “I’m here as a businessman,” he said at the conference. “I’m not representing anyone.”
He was, at the very least, representing the Trump Organization’s way of doing business. When Donald Trump’s bankruptcies in the 1990s and early 2000s left him unable to attract commercial financing to develop his own buildings, he turned to a new business model: selling the Trump name to other developers, many of them overseas. On the day he was sworn in as president, Trump had at least 50 licensing and management deals scattered across the United States and around the world, according to The Washington Post. The Trump Organization uses this model in India, too, which allows it to claim that it has no ownership stake in the towers under construction there that will bear the president’s name. Still, members of the Trump family have been intimately involved in all facets of these projects, according to multiple sources. They have selected the business partners and overseen the construction, design, and marketing of each property; when flagrant violations of government regulations threatened the success of one deal, Donald Trump Jr. intervened directly with a high-level official. These deals, according to financial disclosures filed by the president with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, produced royalties of as much as $11 million between 2014 and 2017.
Close ties to the corrupt & extreme
In India, Donald Trump has repeatedly chosen to partner with people who have close connections to “extreme and corrupt politicians,” as the Center for American Progress recently put it, and, in one case, with a far-right elected official himself. A months-long investigation of the Trump Organization’s business partners in India, conducted in collaboration with The Investigative Fund and reporters at the Indian daily newspaper The Hindu, uncovered a long history of lawsuits, police inquiries, and government investigations that contain evidence of potential bribery, fraud, intimidation, illegal land acquisition, tax evasion, and money laundering. Moreover, the Trump Organization’s ties to these partners leave it potentially vulnerable to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the 1977 law that prohibits U.S. companies or their business partners from bribing, or unduly influencing, foreign officials to advance a business deal. The Trump Organization and its partners in India declined to respond to repeated requests for comment on our findings. …
Trump Inc. Podcast — Former Indian Official: Donald Trump Jr. Pushed ‘Blatantly Illegal’ Project
Trump Inc. Podcast
Last month, Donald Trump Jr. visited India to tout new Trump properties. Full page ads in India’s top papers announced, “Trump has arrived. Have you?”
It wasn’t Trump Jr.’s first trip to India. “I’ve been coming to India for over a decade,” he said during the visit. “There’s an entrepreneurial spirit here…it needs no further explanation.”
This week on Trump Inc., we’re looking at the Trumps’ years-long work in India, where corruption in the real estate industry is endemic.
We worked with Investigative Fund reporter Anjali Kamat, whose reporting on the Trumps’ business in India appears in the new issue of The New Republic.
As with many of the company’s deals abroad, the Trump Organization’s India projects are licensing deals. Trump Jr. has been closely involved in much of the work.
The Trumps’ first India project, in Mumbai, was halted in early 2012 after investigators found significant “irregularities.” The investigators had been tipped off by a state lawmaker who suspected a possible $100 million fraud scheme and warned of “gross violations” in the project’s plans. Authorities revoked the building’s permits.
A few months later, in April 2012, Trump Jr. traveled to Mumbai and, along with his Indian business partners, met with a top official to try to get the project restarted.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, the equivalent of a U.S. governor, had been told Trump Jr. wanted to discuss investing in the state. But instead, Chavan recalled, Trump Jr. and his partners asked Chavan to overturn the decision to revoke the permits. …
Democracy Now! (3/23/18)
A major new investigation has just been published into Trump’s business partnerships in India and the conflicts of interest these deals pose for the White House. The new cover story for The New Republic is titled “Political Corruption and the Art of the Deal.” In it, journalist Anjali Kamat notes the Trump Organization has entered into more deals in India than in any other foreign country. These deals, she writes, are worth an estimated $1.5 billion and produced royalties of up to $11 million between 2014 and 2017.
During her year-long investigation, Kamat traced Trump’s India partners’ long history of facing lawsuits, police inquiries and government investigations that contain evidence of potential bribery, fraud, intimidation, illegal land acquisition, tax evasion and money laundering.