Mar 21, 2018, 8:47 PM ET

Citigroup says loan to Kushner family business 'completely appropriate'

#

One of the nation’s largest banks said a loan made to Kushner Companies last year was “completely appropriate” despite questions about the timing.

Interested in Trump Administration?

Add Trump Administration as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Trump Administration news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

The loan closed March 31, 2017, less than a month after Citigroup chief Michael Corbat met at the White House with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has faced questions about potential conflicts between his government role as a senior adviser to the president and his loyalty to his family’s real estate firm.

The 2017 meeting was first reported by the New York Times in Feb. 2018.

In a letter obtained by ABC News and addressed to Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Thomas Carper and Gary Peters – as well as to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings – who had requested additional information, Citi general counsel Rohan Weerasinghe sought to assure the lawmakers “This transaction was done in the normal course of Citi’s commercial real estate lending business.”

PHOTO: Sen. Elizabeth Warren arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2018.Alex Wong/Getty Images
Sen. Elizabeth Warren arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 1, 2018.

The lawmakers’ March 8, 2018 letter to Corbat questioning the loans said: "Federal ethics laws prohibit federal employees from profiting from their government service, and Mr. Kushner's refusal to fully divest from his financial holdings raises questions about his behavior as a Senior Adviser to President Trump."

“It would be a serious matter if the loan provided to Kushner companies by Citigroup resulted in a violation of federal ethics laws,” the letter continued.

Citi’s letter in response said: “The Kushner family has been a client of Citi for decades” and played down the timing of the loan and Corbat’s meeting with Kushner.

“Transactions of this nature take a long time to come to fruition and Citi had begun exploring this loan in late 2016,” the letter said.

The bank’s general counsel added that Corbat “was unaware of the transaction” until a report in The New York Times. By the time Corbat and Kushner met “the loan was far along the standard process,” the letter said.

Corbat had requested a meeting with Kushner to discuss U.S. trade policy and NAFTA, the bank said.

Citi provided $325 million for a property in the Brooklyn neighborhood known by the acronym DUMBO for "down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass."

“Nothing related to the DUMBO loan or any other personal business with Mr. Kushner or the Kushner Companies was discussed,” the bank said.

The remaining financing for the property was provided by Apollo Global Management, a firm that has also faced questions about loans to Kushner Companies after the Times reported Joshua Harris, one of its founders, met at the White House with Kushner. The Times cited an Apollo spokesman as saying Harris was not involved in the decision to loan money to Kushner Companies and that the loan “went through the firm’s standard approval process.”

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson for Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s attorney told ABC News: “Mr. Kushner has met with hundreds of business people during the campaign, transition and in the Administration to hear ideas about improving the American economy. Mr. Kushner has had no role in the Kushner Companies since joining the government and has taken no part of any business, loans, or projects with or for the Companies after that.”

The lawmakers also sent Apollo sent a letter questioning its loans but its response to the congressional inquiry was not immediately available.

Other lenders face an inquiry from the New York State Department of Financial Services, which is exploring their relationships with Kushner and his family business.

Late Wednesday, Carper, one of the Democratic senators who had questioned the loans, said the Citi response was being reviewed, “but these questions regarding potential conflicts of interest have plagued this Administration ever since then-President-elect Trump refused to divest from his business interests.”

“The Trump Administration should require all senior White House officials to fully divest from all personal business interests. Anything less will only ensure that members of Congress continue to raise questions as part of their constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the executive branch," Carper said in a statement.

News - Citigroup says loan to Kushner family business 'completely appropriate'

RRelated Posts

CComments

  • anonymot

    What else could the Citigroup CEO say?

  • dotlane

    Seems totally legit. Jared will go to jail for other crimes anyway.

  • Richard Conard

    Made a vow to myself when Trump was elected to not do business with any business he or any of his family or friends owned, operated or did business with. Just closed all my Citi accounts, and told the manager why.

  • sixstrings

    Warren is such a blockhead goofball and living example of the law of unintended consequences.

    in 2010 she went bananas in debates over the soon to be formed Consumer Financial Protect Bureau when her opponents complained that it was creating an office that has basically no oversight nor control by anyone outside the office.

    now she's going bananas because the current director is operating with basically no oversight nor control by anyone outside his office.

    she was warned about what would happen when someone she didn't like was in that post...duh!

  • JDC1

    So is the problem with the loan that CITI was approving the loan to gain favor with the administration? If that’s the case, and CITI was using the loan to influence Kushner to basically lobby on their behalf, which is a crime, why is it not an even bigger problem that CITI picked a presidents entire cabinet, undersecretaries, and advisers? Oh, and getting one of their executives an advisory role for that same president? Shouldn’t CITI be brought to its knees for using presidential administrations for their own gain?

  • brandex

    Business as usual from the family of scofflaws that preys together. What other transactions were offered in the WH conference? The U.S. has become a used car dealership.

  • Stephen McCandless

    I was impressed by Citbank's ability to rapidly move on a loan from late 2016 - say Wednesday November 9 to closing a loan just under $400MM 3-4 months later. Glad their CEO went to the WH so that he would not forget this important business deal and would know to go back to his offices and extend his approval. Sound like a story that Fox News would make up... ..just BS to be swallowed by the righteous true believers and those in the swamp that have stayed bought.... P.T. Barnum would be awed...

  • jimrussell

    Sure, and orange pigs fly. Problem Trumps little grifter crime family are going to be in the Big House too and unable to pay.

  • GUNTOTINGPECKERWOOD79

    Elizabeth warren is one to talk lol, she's fattened her net worth quite a bit during her time as senator.

  • MBG9

    It can only be Jared.

  • pksk531

    BULL!!! The CEO is going to know who is getting a $300MILLION loan.

  • Bernard Sandan

    She's always like in paranoid.

  • Truth-B-Me

    This is a major conflict of interest and illustrates how the Trump family is using the presidency. I will no longer deal with Citi and urge all Americans to boycott this financial institution.

  • Guest #1

    SNAFU

  • Lawrence Wilson

    I suspect once Trump leave office many more inquiries & hearings will be held concerning a good number of his advisors & their financial dealings. This may lead to some very interesting entertainment for our nation. I foresee many books & movies.

  • inonepeice

    Corbat had requested a meeting with Kushner to discuss U.S. trade policy and NAFTA, the bank said.
    And now we apparently have Ivanka Trump sitting in as Secretary of State??

  • Old Curmudgeon

    The Gotti's and the Gambino's were bush leaguers compared to this bunch.

  • thebobbob

    “This transaction was done in the normal course of Citi’s commercial real estate lending business.”

    Trust us, just routine.

  • concernedvoter

    Its the Typical Trump Kushner back door deal, why would the CEO know anything about it?? It was never meant to be paid back anyway..

  • Tony Radcliffe-Hung

    Reason #407 why Trump is unfit and needs to be removed from office. The Emoluments Clause.