In a development that reveals Qatar's attempts to penetrate the White House, the Washington Post reported on Monday that Jared Kushner’s father, Charles, refused to accept funds from Qatari Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al-Emadi, three months after President Donald Trump was officially inaugurated in 2017.
Charles Kushner's group disclosed details of a meeting in which he reportedly rejected Qatari financing, saying that the sit-down was held at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City in April 2017.
The Qatari minister had offered to finance a stalled real estate project for the Kushner Companies.
The elder Kushner confirmed that he refused the Qatari funding to avoid any conflict of interest that could affect his son, Jared, who ran the family business group until he became a Trump advisor.
Kushner explained that it was Qataris who initiated the meeting and, in turn, told them that he could not accept government funding.
“I was invited to a meeting,” he said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Before the meeting, Kushner Companies had decided that it was not going to accept sovereign wealth fund investments. 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.”
The company said Kushner agreed to the meeting as a courtesy.
The Post reported on “Kushner Companies’ need for a cash infusion stemmed from Jared Kushner’s decision in 2007 to sell off many of its New Jersey apartments to buy the nation’s most expensive building, a 41-story tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Shortly after the purchase for $1.8 billion, the real estate market crashed, and Kushner refinanced the property, leaving the company with a $1.2 billion loan that comes due in early 2019.”
The company decided that the solution lies in the redevelopment of the tower, a project that needed huge funding, and at that moment the Qataris appeared on the scene.
The Kushners had previously tried to obtain money in 2014-2016 from a private investment fund run by the former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani.
“A tentative deal for $500 million fell through because Qatar sought to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after Jared Kushner was named senior White House adviser, according to Tom Barrack, a Trump friend who had suggested Hamad look at investing with the Kushners.”
A spokesman for the Qatar embassy in Washington said his government had no comment on the Washington Post piece and Charles Kushner’s statement.
The meeting between Charles Kushner and the Qataris came at a time when the president's son-in-law, Jared, was playing a role in shaping the new US administration's Middle East policy and setting up a new peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians in one of his most important missions as a senior adviser to the president.
Kushner was also involved in preparing for the Trump tour that included Saudi Arabia, Israel and Europe in late May 2017.
During Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, many countries raised questions about Qatar's role in financing terrorism. Trump supported the need to freeze any support for terrorist networks.
Following the Trump tour, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, joined by Egypt and Bahrain, decided to boycott Qatar, accusing it of involvement in the financing of international terrorism and interfering in the affairs of neighboring countries.