President Donald Trump is a man who polarises the US nation and likes to use vague phrases and promises to quell calls for his resignation. We know that there were significant concerns about potential conflicts of interest when the Trump family announced an array of Indian real estate investments through the Trump Organization. When he became president, Donald Trump promised there would be “no new foreign deals” which seemed to quell the press and those criticising his business activities. However, all is not as it seems with Donald Trump as some things never change!
Business assets controlled by Trump’s sons
Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump took control of Donald Trump’s business assets when he became president of the USA. There were hopes that any potential conflicts of interest would be avoided but just this week we heard of two new real estate development projects in India. Strictly speaking the promise of “no new foreign deals” has been maintained because apparently these two deals were agreed in principle some time ago.
We also know there are other deals which were agreed in principle as far back as 2007 which could be revitalised and brought back to life. This comes at a time when Donald Trump is fighting fires not only in his homeland but overseas with rumours and counter rumours of requests for favourable treatment with regards to real estate development proposals.
So far the Trump Organization has licensed its name to 5 separate projects in India involving apartments costing up to $1.8 million. There is no doubt that the Trump Organization is making full use of the president’s name and his influence in India but why?
The problem is that the luxury end of the Indian real estate market has being struggling of late. Interest has reduced and prices are under pressure but acquiring a property with the Trump name is a whole different proposition. In some ways the severe criticism Donald Trump has attracted is a little unfair because he has been investing in Indian real estate for some time now. However, quite why he likes to push the boundaries and play with words is unclear.
Whether or not the Trump Organization has gone against the basic promise about “no new foreign deals” is debatable. What is not debatable is the chequered history of some of the partners which the company is dealing with. We know that the Lodha Group was investigated amid allegations of a $30 million untaxed revenue stream which resulted in a $1 million fine. The tax obligation was settled for an undisclosed fee and while these transactions have nothing to do with the Trump deals they do create a shadow over the partnership. Again, why would Donald Trump even consider putting his name to a partnership where the other party has faced such serious allegations?
Ill-advised or foolish
When you bear in mind that Donald Trump is one of the richest people in the USA quite why he would allow his company to place itself in positions where there may be a conflict-of-interest is staggering. It is highly unlikely he will win a second term in office as president of the USA therefore he will have many years in which to expand his real estate portfolio and use his influence for the good of his company. Why do it now?