The sister of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner urged wealthy Chinese Sunday to buy stakes in real estate through a controversial programme that offers United States residency in exchange for investment.
While both deny that they are personally benefitting from their ties to the president, The New York Times reports that Kushner's sister told Chinese investors at a hotel conference in Beijing on Saturday that investing thousands of dollars in Kushner Companies can gain Chinese investors a US visa.
"In 2008, my brother Jared Kushner joined the family company as CEO, and recently moved to Washington to join the administration", Meyer said. That was not Ms. Meyer's intention.
Jared Kushner, 36, senior adviser and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, has far-reaching influence over domestic and foreign policy. It began a quarter-century ago as a well-intentioned plan to attract worldwide capital to the United States by awarding permanent residency to 10,000 foreigners per year who agreed to invest at least $500,000 into a USA business, creating at least 10 jobs directly or indirectly.
The program offers foreign nationals permanent residency - commonly known as a green card - in exchange for investments of at least half a million dollars in a United States business that must also create 10 American jobs.
"Asked why Trump signed a bill allowing the continuation of the investor visa program, a White House spokesman said that Trump had little leeway to adjust a spending bill that was largely assembled by the Obama administration, although Trump did seek to shape the measure in other ways, such as money for the border wall", the Post reported.
Ms Meyer brought up her brother as the company's former chief executive before he left in January to join the Trump administration.
"Kushner Companies had nothing to do with it", the company said.More news: Colombia court decision likely to slow approval of peace laws
However, Kushner Companies insisted it's mention of the White House senior advisor was not meant to lure investors.
Similar events will be held at the InterContinental in Shenzhen on May 13 and the Four Seasons in Guangzhou on May 14, it said.
While Trump wasn't mentioned by name, his photo was featured at the event as a "key decision maker" on visas. Kushner's lawyer says he has no financial interest in the project that was being pitched in China and that he will recuse himself from matters involving the EB-5 visa program. The program was created in the 1990s to boost jobs in areas that are rural or have high unemployment.
She has long called for the program to end, citing reports of rampant fraud and abuse.
Meyer noted that if investors put at least $500,000 into the Kushner-family backed project, they could qualify for an EB-5 visa. Public relations representatives told the Washington Post that their presence threatened the "stability" of the event and that they didn't want reporters talking to anybody because: "This is not the story we want".
By obtaining an EB-5 visa.
The programme designates private entities including property developers as "regional centres", which are expected to create jobs with the projects they undertake with money they collect from foreign investors. The visa program is so popular with China's wealthy elites that it's commonly referred to as the "golden visa".