The nephew of an Israeli diamond trader billionaire helped US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to seal a major real estate deal in 2012, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Raz Steinmetz — whose uncle, Beny Steinmetz, is being investigated for bribery — provided much of the $50 million down payment for a roughly $190 million deal to acquire dozens of Lower Manhattan apartment buildings, the paper said.
The newspaper also noted that while the 36-year-old resigned in January from the post of chief executive of his family’s firm, Kushner Companies, he is still the beneficiary of trusts that own the business.
Furthermore, while Kushner has been tasked with leading American efforts to bring peace to Israel and the Middle East, his family’s company remains extensively linked to Israeli businesses.
— rani kalra (@RaniSapra) April 27, 2017
Kushner Companies has partnered with Raz Steinmetz since at least 2012, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The two families are also co-investors in Jersey City’s Trump Bay Street luxury apartment block.
Bloomberg quoted ethics experts saying the partnership between the Steinmetzes and Kushners highlighted the weakness of federal disclosure regulations, which allow real estate investors to conceal their identities behind shell companies.
This potentially allows individuals and businesses to secretly win favor with US administrations by investing in areas such as US real estate, the report said.
Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, told The New York Times, “Mr. Kushner continues to work with the Office of the White House Counsel and personal counsel to ensure he recuses from any particular matter involving specific parties in which he has a business relationship with a party to the matter.”
A statement from Raz Steinmetz’s lawyer denied any connection to his uncle, who is being investigated in four countries. “None of my investment entities has invested in any transactions with Beny Steinmetz or any of his interests,” the attorney said.
An attorney representing one of Beny Steinmetz’s companies said the two men had not met since 2013 and that any business dealings between them were 20 years old.
Beny Steinmetz was arrested on December 19 and accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes in the Republic of Guinea in exchange for advancing his business interests in the country, according to the Israel Police.
The arrest was the result a wide-ranging investigation carried out jointly by agencies from the US, Switzerland, Guinea and Israel in coordination with the OECD.
Steinmetz has said he is innocent.
In December 2015, it was reported that Steinmetz was accused of involvement in a €136 million corruption investigation in Romania.
Judicial sources in Bucharest had said they believed Steinmetz, as well as the Israeli political consultant Tal Ziberstein, conspired with the Romanian businessman Remus Truica to illicitly transfer state-held lands to another Romanian citizen at an alleged cost to the state of nearly $150 million, the Romania Libera daily reported at the time.