White House Probes Loans to Kushner’s Business

Citigroup, Apollo loans totaling over $500 million were made after top executives of both firms met with Jared Kushner

The Office of Government Ethics told a Democratic lawmaker in the letter that the White House is probing whether a $184 million loan from the real-estate arm of Apollo Global Management LLC and a $325 million loan from Citigroup Inc. may have run afoul of the rules and laws governing the conduct of federal employees.

.. Mr. Kushner had been running the Kushner business before the election. After Mr. Trump won, Mr. Kushner resigned from the company and sold his personal stake in some projects and assets to family members and others, but he retains a stake in multiple Kushner Cos. properties, including those that received the Apollo and Citigroup loans.

Kushner’s Business Got Loans From Companies After White House Meetings

Apollo, the private equity firm, and Citigroup made
large loans last year to the family real estate business
of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser.

.. Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show.
.. It was one of the largest loans Kushner Companies received last year. An even larger loan came from Citigroup
.. There is little precedent for a top White House official meeting with executives of companies as they contemplate sizable loans to his business, say government ethics experts.
.. “This is exactly why senior government officials, for as long back as I have any experience, don’t maintain any active outside business interests,”
.. Mr. Kushner steers American policy in the Middle East, for example, but his family company continues to do deals with Israeli investors.
.. Mr. Kushner’s firm has sought investments from the Chinese insurer Anbang and from the former prime minister of Qatar.
.. “Why does Jared have to take the meeting?” he asked. “Is there not somebody else who doesn’t have these financial entanglements who can brainstorm freely with these folks?”
.. All of the executives who met with Mr. Kushner have lots to gain or lose in Washington.
Apollo has sought ways to benefit from the White House’s possible infrastructure plan. And its executives, including Mr. Harris, had tens of millions of dollars personally at stake in the tax overhaul that was making its way through Washington last year.

Citigroup, one of the country’s largest banks, is heavily regulated by federal agencies and, like other financial companies, is trying to get the government to relax its oversight of the industry.

.. he is not required to disclose the lifeblood of any real estate firm’s business: its lenders and outside investors.

.. Mr. Harris, a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils

.. Early last year, the White House enlisted Mr. Harris and other executives to advise the administration on infrastructure policy.

.. One of the largest investors in Apollo’s real estate trust is the Qatari government’s investment fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

.. Mr. Kushner’s firm previously sought a $500 million investment from the former head of that Qatari fund for its headquarters at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

.. Shortly after Kushner Companies received the loan from Apollo, the private equity firm emerged as a beneficiary of the tax cut package that the White House championed. Mr. Trump backed down from his earlier pledge to close a loophole that permits private equity managers to pay taxes on the bulk of their income at rates that are roughly half of ordinary income tax rates. The tax law left the loophole largely intact.

Kushner Cos. in Talks to Buy Remaining Stake in 666 Fifth Ave.

Kushner Cos. is negotiating to buy the portion it doesn’t already own of 666 Fifth Ave., the financially ailing Manhattan office tower that last year became a lightning rod for criticism of conflicts between a senior member of the Trump administration and his family’s business interests.

.. The building has faced financial problems for much of the last decade because of the 2008 downturn, rising vacancy and its $1.2 billion debt, which comes due next year.

.. the proposal sparked controversy after it was revealed that Kushner was close to forming a partnership with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese insurer with connections to the government in Beijing.

.. Jared Kushner has taken steps to insulate himself from conflicts, selling his stake in 666 Fifth and other properties to a trust controlled by other family members.

.. The building is about 30% vacant, partly because Kushner was trying to empty it to prepare for redevelopment.

.. She noted that Kushner has written down the value of its stake in the building to less than 5% of the family’s net worth.

.. the family may face difficulty moving ahead with a redevelopment of the scale of last year’s plan partly because it has opted to shut itself off from major capital sources. For example, the company already has stopped doing deals with sovereign governments or funds because of appearances, according to people familiar with the matter.

.. Kushner also is no longer going after financing for its projects through the federal program known as EB-5, which grants green cards to foreigners

.. Lenders to Kushner projects include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and CIT Group Inc.

Women Say a “Rigged” System Allows Wall Street to Hide Its Sexual-Harassment Problem

There is little doubt that finance has had just as many cases of sexual predation as other industries, and perhaps more. Finance is a male-dominated industry and the few women who manage to enter it, and to climb its ranks, often become the targets of the men who work there.

.. Renée-Eva Fassbender Amochaev, a broker who successfully sued Smith Barney for gender discrimination in a subsequent case when it was part of Citigroup, told me that the way Wall Street firms resolve sexual harassment cases continues to protect perpetrators and firms. Large settlements are paid, but the men who either committed the bad behavior or who effectively condoned it, often remain. “No one gets fired,” she said. “Everyone on the inside knows the system is rigged.” And, because the settlements are confidential, the incidents are kept quiet.

.. members of her department went to Scores, a topless dance club in Manhattan, to celebrate a colleague’s promotion.

.. Managers placed all the women’s desks together, and that part of the floor was known as the “pink ghetto.” The rest of the office was decidedly more masculine. “It was a locker room,” she said. “It was horrible, but I just sucked it up for a year.”

.. Carnoy said she thought about suing Bear Stearns because what went on there was so “despicable,” but then she thought better of it. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I can sue them but I want to be in this industry for the next thirty years’,”

.. An executive’s annual bonus can be in the millions of dollars and if a woman experienced egregious harassment or criminal sexual assault on Wall Street, the settlement would also be in the millions.

.. Pao told me that she thought part of the reason might be because that while women had won a few legal victories—and had received cash settlements—their careers had stalled afterward.

.. the broader #MeToo moment is strengthening an “underground” movement, or whisper network, where women who work in finance help each other. “What Wall Street still underestimates is that the ‘underground’ is still alive and well and growing stronger with this new movement,” she said. “These women find me, contact me, call me—for twelve solid years now. We plot, we organize in secret and effect change through an underground, which is how you, and countless women, have found me. It’s all we have right now.