A company linked to senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, met with Qatar’s finance minister in April 2017, though it said it had not considering accepting money from the regime, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Charles Kushner told the Post he attended the meeting with Ali Sharif Al Emadi at the request of the Qataris, three months after Trump took office. He said that his company had already decided not to accept any money from the regime to avoid any conflict of interest for his son Jared, who was at the same time planning Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia.
“I was invited to a meeting,” Kushner senior said. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments.”
He added: “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.”
Al Emadi was interviewed by Bloomberg while in New York and told the finance news site “We go where we think we’re going to have value,” adding, “We like what we see here.”
Months after the meeting, Trump urged Gulf States to impose a blockade on Doha.
The Qatari embassy told the Post its government had no comment on the report.
Kushner’s version of events contradicts a previous report on the Intercept news website that Jared Kushner had actively sought out a $500 million investment from the Qataris.
Kushner’s company denied that report, saying, “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.”
Earlier, from 2014 to 2016, Kushner’s real estate firm had been in pursuit of a loan from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to help pay for a New York City skyscraper, which Kushner had bought in 2007 using half a billion dollars of his family’s cash and $1.3 billion in borrowed money.
The Qatari national had agreed to make the property investment on the condition that the family raise the remaining sum, the report said.
Kushner then approached the Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group, and in March Bloomberg reported that the two sides had reached a deal regarding the high-profile property, on 666 Fifth Avenue.
However, when Kushner was named a White House adviser, Anbang, which has close ties to the Chinese government, pulled out of the agreement over growing concerns of a conflict of interests.
After that, talks with al-Thani broke down as well.
In June, Trump boasted that his Middle East visit the previous month and his calls for an end to state funding of “radical ideology” were what prompted Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates to cut ties with Qatar over terrorism links.
“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” he tweeted.
The Intercept said that Kushner was a major factor in the White House’s tough posture on Qatar, though it didn’t link the policy directly to the failed skyscraper investment.