Former first son-in-law Jared Kushner received a $2 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund — with expected annual management fees of $25 million, according to a New York Times report.
Kushner’s firm, Affinity Partners, made the deal shortly after President Donald Trump left office, despite a Saudi Public Investment Fund review panel’s concerns about “inexperience” and a due-diligence review that was “unsatisfactory in all aspects,” according to minutes of a June meeting reported by the New York Times.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman leads the fund’s board, which overruled the skeptics. A letter written by fund staff to a board member who dissented cited “aims to form a strategic relationship with the Affinity Partners Fund and its founder, Jared Kushner” in going ahead with the deal, according to the report.
Kushner worked as a top Trump White House aid and built a relationship with the crown prince while in office — including while working on the Abraham Accords that led to four Arab states establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.
Trump is openly teasing a possible 2024 bid, and Kushner’s arrangement sparked ethics concerns from some of the same experts who have criticized the overseas business venture of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden.
Walter Shaub, director of the US Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration, tweeted that he was concerned about the possibility that Kushner may have influenced US policy during his time in office to benefit potential future business plans.
“Makes you wonder if Jared did something with his official authority for MBS before leaving government to earn that investment,” Shaub tweeted.
US spy agencies have assessed that the crown prince ordered the 2018 operation that resulted in the death and alleged dismemberment by bone saw of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a US resident who died after being lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Trump, after initial criticism of the alleged murder, said the US-Saudi relationship was too important to jeopardize by breaking with the prince, the country’s de facto ruler. (The following year Trump hailed the crown prince as a friend and adopted a pointed silence on Khashoggi’s death from him.)
“This is corruption,” wrote Brookings Institution fellow Norm Eisen, a former Democratic official and co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, on Twitter.
Angel investor Jason Calacanis posted, “They’re all grifters. … [W]e probably need to ban kids (including daughters and sons-in-law) of Presidents from being involved during their parent’s terms. If they’re qualified let them serve under the next president and earn their slots.”
Hunter Biden pursued a wide variety of business deals during his father’s vice presidency and afterward before turning to anonymous sales of his artwork after his father was elected to the presidency.
Hunter Biden’s business deals have been criticized for nontransparency, and critics have publicly voiced suspicions that the president had involvement in his son’s ventures.
Beginning in 2014, when his father led Ukraine policy for the Obama administration, Hunter Biden was paid a reported $1 million per year to serve on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
Joe Biden said in 2019 that he’d “never spoken” with his son about “his overseas business dealings,” but the New York Post reported in October 2020 that Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi emailed Hunter Biden in 2015 to thank him for an opportunity to meet his father.
A photo and emails subsequently reported by the New York Post indicate Joe Biden attended a 2015 dinner at DC’s Cafe Milano with a group of his son’s associates — including Pozharskyi, a trio of Kazakhs and Russian billionaire Yelena Baturina and her husband, ex-Moscow major Yuri Luzhkov. Baturina is Russia’s richest woman, and a 2020 report from Republican-led Senate committees alleges that in 2014 she paid $3.5 million to a firm associated with Hunter Biden.
In China, Hunter Biden co-founded an investment firm called BHR Partners in 2013 less than two weeks after flying with his father to Beijing aboard Air Force Two.
Hunter Biden introduced Joe Biden to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in the lobby of a hotel in China’s capital. The fund is controlled in part by state-owned entities and facilitated the 2016 sale for $3.8 billion of a Congolese cobalt mine from a US company to the firm China Molybdenum. Cobalt is a key component in electric car batteries.
Hunter Bides attorney Chris Clark said in November — less than a week after President Biden’s 3½-hour virtual summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping — that his client had divested his 10% stake in BHR Partners, but offered no further details. The White House declined to share any details on the alleged transactions and referred reporters to Clark, who did not respond to inquiries.
The Washington Post reported this month that CEFC China Energy paid Hunter Biden and his uncle, Jim Biden, $4.8 million in 2017 and 2018.
Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski has claimed he spoke with Joe Biden in May 2017 about pursuing business in China. A May 13, 2017, email recovered from a laptop believed to have formerly belonged to Hunter Biden indicated that the “big guy” would get a 10% equity stake in a corporate entity established with CEFC. Bobulinski alleged that the now-president was that “big guy.”
In October, Hunter Biden was paid $375,000 by the unknown buyers of five prints of his art ahead of a Hollywood show. It’s unclear whether he made additional sales.
From the archives (December 2020): Latest complication for Biden transition team: Hunter Biden tax probe
Hunter Biden revealed in December 2020 that he’s under federal tax investigation, and the New York Times recently reported that he had paid more than $1 million in back taxes.
Kushner, according to the Times report, indicated in 2021 that he wanted to attract $7 billion overall to the fund, but “so far he appears to have signed up few other major investors” beyond the Saudi wealth fund.
In a recent public filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Kushner’s firm reported that its main fund had $2.5 billion under management, almost exclusively from overseas investors. The $2 billion from Saudi Arabia would constitute 80% of that total.
A version of this report appears at NYPost.com.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism