Dropped SEC inquiry raises new questions about Kushner conflicts of interest

PHOTO: White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Dec. 20, 2017.PlayEvan Vucci/AP
WATCH Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner facing growing scrutiny

The Securities and Exchange Commission dropped an inquiry of Apollo Global Management six weeks after the private equity firm extended a loan to a real estate firm owned by the family of President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

There is no evidence the SEC inquiry ended as a condition of the loan, but the timing of deal raises further questions about Kushner’s ability to navigate potential conflicts of interests as he still retains several significant holdings in his family’s real estate empire.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Apollo loaned Kushner Companies $184 million following several meetings at the White House between Kushner and Apollo founder Joshua Harris, who was then advising the Trump administration on infrastructure policy.

Representatives for both Kushner and Apollo vehemently denied the existence of a quid pro quo or any other connection between the loan, the meetings and the closure of the inquiry.

"Jared does not tell us who he meets with nor do we ask him," said Kushner Cos. spokeswoman Christine Taylor. "We do not update Jared on what's going on in our business nor does he ask."

PHOTO: Joshua Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC, speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., May 2, 2016. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Joshua Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC, speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., May 2, 2016.

Apollo released a statement saying Harris was not involved in any decision-making surrounding the loan.

“Neither Mr. Harris or representatives of the Qatar Investment Authority [which backs Apollo real estate investments} were involved in the decision to extend the 225 West Randolph loan, which went through the firm’s standard approval process,” the statement reads.

The SEC issued a subpoena to Apollo in late 2016 as part of an inquiry into how the firm reported certain investment returns, associated costs and personnel changes, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

Apollo loaned Kushner Companies $184 million on November 1, 2017 to refinance the skyscraper at 225 West Randolph in Chicago. The SEC advised Apollo it had concluded its inquiry on December 23, 2017. As is customary, no reason was given.

There are several reasons why the SEC might have ended the inquiry, and according to a source familiar with the matter, there is no evidence of any wrongdoing.

"We have not seen facts or evidence that any of this stuff is linked,” a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

PHOTO: The Kushner building located at at 225 West Randolph in Chicago.Google
The Kushner building located at at 225 West Randolph in Chicago.

Inquiries like the one Apollo faced are conducted by SEC staff rather than one of the five commissioners appointed by the president. During the inquiry in question, Apollo dealt only with staff attorneys in the SEC’s New York office and had no contact with their superiors or with anyone in Washington, according to a source familiar with the inquiry.

A source familiar with the matter told ABC News Harris never discussed the loan with Kushner.

"Josh [Harris] did not have a conversation about a loan or any other business with Jared Kushner."

A spokesman for Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell told the Associated Press that Kushner has "had no role in the Kushner Companies since joining the government and has taken no part of any business, loans or projects with or for the Companies after that."

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