Sunday, May 07, 2017

Fiscal Darwinism, The Survival of the Richest

And now that the Trump family has its hands on the federal government, expect a series of bust-outs as they sell off whatever they can get their greedy little hands on. The latest Trump family bargain is "green cards". For a small investment in Kushner Properties, wealthy Chinese can buy a residency visa.
But for Bi Ting, who attended the event, part of the appeal was political: Jared Kushner is the son-in-law of — and a powerful adviser to — President Trump. Virtually unheard-of in China just months ago, he is now known here as a deeply influential figure in American politics.

“The Trump relationship is an extra point for me,” Ms. Bi said, adding that she and her husband had not decided whether to invest.

The Kushner Companies’ China roadshow, promoting $500,000 investments in New Jersey real estate as the path to a residency card in the United States, moved to Shanghai on Sunday after a similar pitch on Saturday in Beijing. Security was tighter in Shanghai than it had been in Beijing, where reporters for The New York Times and The Washington Post briefly attended the event before being kicked out.

At the event in Beijing, Mr. Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, cited her brother’s service to the company he led as chief executive until January. She said the project in Jersey City “means a lot to me and my entire family.”

Mr. Kushner has said that he has stepped back from the day-to-day operations of the family business. But government ethics filings show that he and Ivanka Trump, his wife and the president’s daughter, continue to benefit from Kushner Companies’ real estate and investment businesses, a stake worth as much as $600 million, and probably much more.

The Shanghai event, at the opulent Four Seasons Hotel, was patrolled by burly security guards who screened those in attendance and kept journalists outside, in an elevator lobby. The organizers had refused on Saturday to allow late registration as word spread of the Beijing event. One guard at the Shanghai event was heard saying that at least some of the participants would be leaving through a private back exit.

But some who attended described an investor pitch similar to the one in Beijing, and Mr. Trump’s political power was palpable at the Shanghai event even if his name went unsaid. As on Saturday in Beijing, one slide presented to the Shanghai audience on Sunday showed a photograph of Mr. Trump when describing who will decide the future of the visa program for foreign investors, according to a snapshot taken by an audience member.

While the Trump connection piqued the interest of many people in attendance, such events soliciting investors for projects in the United States are not unusual in China. The so-called EB-5 visa program awards foreign investors the right to live in the United States for two years and a path to permanent residency, in exchange for investments of at least $500,000 in American development projects. A bright red line near the top of the posters in the Four Seasons lobby prominently mentioned EB-5 visas.

About three-quarters of the roughly 10,000 investor visas issued last year went to Chinese nationals.

Although the program was created as a way to finance projects in economically troubled neighborhoods, it has instead turned into a form of cheap financing for luxury real estate developers. Applicants are primarily seeking the visa, so they do not seek a significant return on their investment.

The United States Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of Congress, has criticized the visa program for its lax safeguards against illicit sources of money.
Launder some money, buy access to a safe place, who cares if it doesn't come anywhere near its original purpose. What the Kushner's are selling is just fine with the Chinese and others.


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