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Kushner’s sister woos wealthy Chinese investors

Nicole Kushner Meyer, third from left, the sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, poses at a promotional event in Shanghai on May 6. Meyer was in China seeking more than $150 million in investment in a luxury apartment complex project in New Jersey. Photo:AFP/Getty Images

The sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has been urging wealthy Chinese to buy stakes in real estate through a controversial program that offers US residency.

Nicole Kushner Meyer was in Beijing and Shanghai over the weekend, seeking more than US$150 million in investment in a luxury apartment complex project in New Jersey.

Jared Kushner, 36, senior adviser and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, has far-reaching influence over domestic and foreign policy. He stepped down from the family firm in January to serve in the administration.

Eyebrows have been raised as the investment sought by the firm will be funneled through the US EB-5 visa program.

This offers foreigners permanent residency — a green card — in exchange for investment of at least US$500,000 in a US business that must also create 10 American jobs.

Meyer told a crowd of more than 100 potential investors in Shanghai yesterday that her grandfather had come to the US as a poor refugee, working as a carpenter before building up a real estate empire.

They could fast-track the process by buying into the 1,476-unit complex in Jersey City, scheduled to break ground early next year, she said.

The investment drive, hosted by immigration agency QWOS, has sought to highlight the project’s connections to the “famous” clan, raising concern over potential conflicts of interest.

Yesterday, Meyer was introduced in Chinese to investors as a representative of “a famed celebrity investment family.”

QWOS representatives courting potential investors pointedly dropped the name of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is Jared Kushner’s wife.

Attendees were reassured by a US lawyer that despite his tough talk on immigration, Trump was unlikely to make any changes to the EB-5 policy in the near future.

But he warned that investment thresholds were likely to rise come autumn and regulations would be tighter.

The housing complex, known as “One Journal Square,” will include recreational facilities, child playrooms and a pet hospital, according to the QWOS website. EB-5 investment from China will account for around 15 percent of its total cost of US$976.4 million.

Yesterday’s presentations emphasized its similarity to a Trump-branded luxury development a 10-minute drive away.

Those apartments were also developed by Kushner Companies, and about a quarter of the funding — around US$50 million — was obtained via EB-5 investment, according to a report by Bloomberg News last year. Most investors were Chinese and brought in by QWOS, the company said.

Around a dozen clients had signed on for the new project after a Beijing event headed by Meyer on Saturday, QWOS representatives told reporters.

Meyer told investors that the project “means a lot to me and my entire family,” and mentioned her brother’s former role as chief executive of Kushner Companies, the New York Times reported.

The EB-5 program was created in 1990 to help stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment from foreign nationals, but detractors say it puts citizenship up for sale.

Nearly 90 percent of EB-5 visas were issued to Chinese nationals in 2014, when the program reached its quota of 10,000 visas.
 


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