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Kushner firm apologizes for reference to White House ties

Kushner firm apologizes for reference to White House ties

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner's family business is courting wealthy Chinese to buy stakes in real estate through a controversial government program that offers U.S. residency in exchange for investment.

Nicole Meyer, Kushner's sister, made the sales pitch on Saturday in Beijing to more than 100 Chinese investors, the New York Times reported. "Kushner Companies apologizes if that mention of her brother was in any way interpreted as an attempt to lure investors", the spokesperson said.

Meyer noted that if investors put at least $500,000 into the Kushner-family backed project, they could qualify for an EB-5 visa.

On Monday, Trump administration spokesman Sean Spicer said the president would look at the foreign investor visa program as part of a broader review of immigration policy. "The event generated a lot of interest on the Chinese side precisely because of the connection to Trump".

Meyer was in China looking for investors for a Kushner real estate project in Jersey City.

The pitch raised concern over potential conflicts of interest and set off a media firestorm in the United States, leading Kushner Companies to issue a formal apology on Monday.

The EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards if they invest as little as $500,000 in a United States development project that would create jobs. The program was created in the 1990s to boost jobs in areas that are rural or have high unemployment. (Other countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have similar programs.) Critics contend it's also plagued by fraud and used for money laundering.

In exchange for their investment, investors receive a two-year visa that comes with a likelihood of subsequently receiving permanent status.

"Chinese people are pretty affluent now", said Stella Guo, a marketing director at CanAchieve Consultants, which helps Chinese clients obtain visas under the EB-5 program. The EB-5 is known as "the golden visa" among Chinese but an EB-5 via the Kushners is really more of a platinum visa.

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 past year by Bloomberg News. In crowded urban zones, developers have been found to gerrymander projects to allow them to offer the lower investment amount. Construction will kick off during the first quarter of 2018. If you're a Chinese billionaire eager to purchase American citizenship for your family, you couldn't care less whether your "investment" goes to a legit building project or not so long as the visa is granted.

The project is just seven minutes away from Manhattan by train, says Qiaowai. "That's why I doubt this project", one investor told the Washington Post.

An attorney representing Kushner told the WSJ that "the Cadre stake is described in a revised version of his disclosure form that will be made public after it has been certified by ethics officials" and that he has "resigned from Cadre's board, assigned his voting rights and reduced his ownership share". Meyer is featured as a big-name guest at all the events.

Washington Post China correspondent Emily Rauhala was the presentation in Beijing. Reuters reports that journalists were "barred" from the event.