White House Lawyers Looking Into Loans to Kushner's Business

(Bloomberg) -- White House attorneys are examining whether loans totaling hundreds of millions of dollars secured by senior adviser Jared Kushner’s family business may have violated laws or federal ethics regulations.

The internal investigation into the loans was disclosed Monday by the Office of Government Ethics, an independent agency responsible for preventing conflicts of interest by federal employees.

The revelation came after a Democratic lawmaker raised questions about the propriety of the decision by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law to meet in his capacity as a senior White House aide with executives from companies that later provided loans to Kushner Cos., the private family real-estate business that Kushner ran before the 2016 election.

The deals, revealed last month by the New York Times, included a $184 million loan from Apollo Global Management LLC and a $325 million loan from Citigroup Inc.

“I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel’s Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated,” David Apol, the acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote in a March 22 letter to Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. “During that discussion, the White House informed me that they had already begun this process.”

Executives from both Apollo and Citigroup have denied discussing the loans with Kushner during meetings at the White House.

Citigroup said the loan they gave the Kushner Companies was for a Brooklyn real estate development and that Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat, who met with Kushner less than a month before the loan was secured, didn’t know about the transaction.

Brooklyn Project

“Nothing related to the Dumbo loan or any other personal business with Mr. Kushner or the Kushner Companies was discussed at that meeting,” Rohan Weerasinghe, Citigroup general counsel, wrote in a letter to Democratic lawmakers and obtained by CNN. Dumbo refers to the Brooklyn neighborhood where the project was situated.

Apollo said negotiations for a loan it made through ARI -- a real-estate-investment trust managed by an affiliate that helped refinance a Chicago skyscraper -- were conducted without involvement of any member of the Kushner family. Apollo co-founder Joshua Harris, who also owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, met repeatedly with Kushner as the administration developed its infrastructure plan.

“ARI engaged with the professional managers of Kushner Companies, which did not include any members of the Kushner family,” Apollo attorney Kevin Downey wrote in a letter also obtained by CNN. “To our knowledge, Jared Kushner did not play any role on behalf of Kushner Companies with respect to the Chicago Loan.”

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