Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, met with the Qatari Finance Minister last year in the hopes of securing financing for a debt-ridden asset in the company’s portfolio the company confirmed yesterday. Kushner maintains however that he turned down offers form the Finance Minister to invest in the property in order to avoid potential conflicts for his son who just a few months earlier had become a top adviser in the White House.
“I was invited to a meeting,” Kushner told The Washington Post. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. We informed the Qatar representatives of our decision and they agreed. Even if they were there ready to wire the money, we would not have taken it.”
The company told The Post that Kushner had taken the meeting as a courtesy.
Kushner and representatives of the Qatari government, including Finance Minister Ali Sharif Al Emadi, met twice in April of last year in New York. The first meeting was held in a suite at the St. Regis Hotel and the second, which Al Emadi did not attend himself, was held at 666 Fifth Avenue, the troubled asset Kushner Cos was trying to find investors in.
The younger Kushner had sold off many of the company’s New Jersey apartments to buy the Midtown-Manhattan skyscraper. Shortly after spending $1.8 billion on the building in 2007, the real estate market crashed. Kushner Cos refinanced the property, but anemic occupancy has left the property debt-saddled. A $1.2 billion loan payment is due in early 2019.
The meetings were first reported by the Intercept earlier this month, but Kushner Cos had denied that they took place. “We did not meet with anyone from the Qatari Government to solicit sovereign funds for any of our projects. To suggest otherwise, is inaccurate and false,” the company said in a statement at the time.
The revelation of the elder Kushner’s meeting with Qatari officials comes against the backdrop of inquiries into whether the younger Kushner influenced White House policy in attempts to secure financing for his real estate business.
According to sources investigators are looking into discussions the top White House aide had with Qatari, Chinese, Russian and Emirati officials in order to use his position to advance personal business interests, and then attempted to influence American foreign policy accordingly.
The meetings with Qatari officials were followed just a few weeks later by an economic blockade against the nation by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Middle Eastern nations for what they called Qatar’s state sponsoring of terror. Jared Kushner, who was deeply involved at the time in shaping Mid-East policy for the incoming administration at the time, signed off on the blockade.
The April meetings were not the first time the Kushner’s attempted to secure financing from Qatar. The previous December, during the presidential transition, Jared Kushner met with former Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, also in order to secure financing for 666 Fifth Avenue. A tentative deal for a $500 million investment with Al Thani, fell through when Chinese backing from a major insurance fund for half of the investment failed to materialize.
Tom Barrack, A close friend of President Trump’s who helped set the meeting up, said Charles Kushner was “crushed” when the deal fell through.