Donald Trump’s sprawling business ties raise questions about how his personal interests could influence the policies he’ll pursue as president. His business interests at home and abroad, family businesses, outstanding debts and ongoing government action against him and his companies have already complicated the transition and could be a recurring problem for his presidency. On Jan. 11, Trump announced he will step down from his positions at the Trump Organization but that he will not divest his ownership. The organization, which will be managed by his sons Eric and Don Jr. and chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, will terminate pending deals and not seek new international business, among other efforts to avoid possible conflicts. Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, disagrees with the Trump team’s lawyers that these measures solve the problems his businesses present, calling them “meaningless.” The Trump Organization declined to comment about its investments or potential conflicts. Here’s what we know about Trump’s interests around the world.
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Trump has earned millions of dollars plastering his name on hotels and condominium towers that were built or are owned by international partners, some in countries that are political flashpoints. Although he will be stepping down from his position, Trump could still be accused of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bans gifts to U.S. officials from foreign governments, experts say. Trump could run afoul of this provision through the process of obtaining permits or through dealings with business partners who often have ties to foreign governments. In January, Trump Hotels announced it wanted to triple its number of U.S. hotels, raising new questions about how his business interests could conflict with his presidency.
A project to build a tower was under development with partners Felipe Yaryura and Moses Yellati of the YY Development Group. The men are close with the Trumps, and Yaryura attended the election night party in New York. On Jan. 3, a Trump Organization spokeswoman said there are no plans to build) in Buenos Aires. The city government declined to authorize the project’s permit in November, according to Reuters.
Licensed his name for a hotel-condo tower under development with Garant Holding. Its chairman, Anar Mammadov, is the son of the country’s transport minister who has been suspected by U.S. diplomats of laundering money for Iran, according to the Associated Press. Construction of the hotel is finished, but it is not yet open. On Dec. 14 the Azerbaijani embassy hosted an event at Trump’s Washington hotel. The following day, Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten said the company has ended this licensing agreement.
Licensing deal for five office towers in Brazil currently under development by Bulgarian partner MRP Group. Brazil is investigating investment irregularities in the project. A top Trump Organization official said on Dec. 15 that the company has ended this agreement.
Licensing deal on a beachfront hotel with Brazilian partner LSH Barra. The property officially opened prior to the Olympics, but some portions of it are still under construction. Brazilian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the hotel’s investments. On Dec. 14, Trump’s hotel management and development company said it would remove its name from the property.
Trump lists a company on his FEC filing possibly related to business in Bermuda: DJ Aerospace (Bermuda) Ltd..
Licensing and management deal for a hotel-condo tower under development in Vancouver with the Holborn Group owned by Joo Kim Tiah, the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest real estate investors.
Licensing and management deal with Talon International for a tower, which was placed into receivership by a bankruptcy judge. The building has been subject to investor lawsuits. Trump’s partners on the project were firms associated with Russian-born billionaire Alex Shnaider and others.
In October, Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger told Chinese media that he plans to open locations in 20 to 30 Chinese cities, plus more under the Trump Organization’s new Scion brand. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s largest lender, is a tenant of Trump Tower in Manhattan. Trump lists multiple companies on his FEC filing possibly related to business in China: THC China Technical Services Manager Corp., THC China Technical Services LLC, THC Services Shenzhen LLC, THC Services Shenzhen Member Corp., THC Shenzhen Hotel Manager LLC, THC Shenzhen Hotel Manager Member Corp. The Trump Organization has used similar naming conventions for companies associated with previous international licensing deals.
In February, Trump was granted a trademark for use of the Trump brand in China—the result of a yearslong legal process. In March, the Chinese government granted as many as 38 additional trademarks to Trump. He’d applied for them in April 2016, during his campaign.
Trump Organization executives have traveled to Cuba for years. Asked on CNN in March if he’d be interested in opening a hotel there, Trump said: “I would, I would—at the right time, when we’re allowed to do it. Right now, we’re not.” In July he told a Miami TV station that “Cuba would be a good opportunity [but] I think the timing is not right.” At a Dec. 1 event, Miguel Fluxa, CEO of Spanish hotelier Grupo Iberostar, said the Trump Organization had been looking to buy hotels in the country within the last six months. “In the last 12 months, many major competitors have sought opportunities in Cuba,” Amanda Miller, vice-president of marketing at the Trump Organization, said in an e-mailed statement in response to Fluxa’s comments. “While it is important for us to understand the dynamics of the markets that our competitors are exploring, we do not intend to expand into Cuba nor have we ever done any business there.”
The Trump Organization said on Feb. 9 that it’s considering restarting a long dormant development project at the Cap Cana resort after Eric Trump visited the property earlier in the month. Trump signed a deal with the Hazoury family, which owns Cap Cana, to develop a golf course, villas, a beach club, a condo hotel and residences boasting ocean views on the property in 2007. The deal foundered in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, and the Trump Organization sued Cap Cana in 2012 for unpaid licensing fees. Cap Cana described its relationship with Eric Trump as “incredibly strong” in a Feb. 5 press release.
Trump lists two companies on his FEC filing possibly related to business in Egypt: Trump Marks Egypt and Trump Marks Egypt LLC.
Trump lists two companies on his FEC filing possibly related to business in the Republic of Georgia: Trump Marks Batumi and Trump Marks Batumi Member Corp. In 2011, he signed a licensing deal to use his name on two projects, developed by the Silk Road Group, in the former Soviet state: a tower in the capital of Tbilisi and a casino resort in Batumi, on the Black Sea. Then-President Mikheil Saakashvili sought out Trump to develop the project and attended the signing ceremony at Trump Tower in New York. Once on hold, the project appeared to be moving forward following Trump’s win. The Trump Organization and the Silk Road Group have since said that they've decided “to formally end the development of Trump Tower, Batumi.” The Silk Road Group will continue the tower project on its own.
Licensed his name for two projects in development in India—one in Mumbai with Lodha Group and another with Panchshil Realty for two towers in Pune. Trump recently met with his project partners, who also have ties to the Indian government, raising questions of a potential conflict. On his FEC filing, he lists two companies possibly related to a project in Kolkata: DT Tower Kolkata LLC and DT Tower Kolkata Managing Member Corp.
Trump Hotels has plans to open two properties in Indonesia in Indonesia with MNC Group, a Jakarta-based media company. He received up to $5 million in royalties for each property last year, according to his personal financial disclosure.
Trump bought Doonbeg Golf Club in Ireland in 2014 and promised to invest €45 million ($47.6 million). The annual report for that year, the most recent available, shows the course losing money. Trump has scaled back plans to build a sea wall after officials raised concerns over potential damage to dunes and a snail habitat.
Trump lists two companies on his FEC filing possibly related to business in Israel : Trump Drinks Israel LLC, Trump Drinks Israel Member Corp.
Licensing deal on hotel-condo tower currently in operation developed by local partner Newland International Properties Corp.
Licensing deal on a luxury residential tower under development with Century Properties Group, whose shares surged 20 percent the day after Trump was elected. The country’s new special envoy to the U.S., Jose E.B. Antonio, is the CEO of Century Properties. President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly threatened to distance himself from U.S. policy in favor of stronger ties with Russia and China. Although he’s signaled a willingness to work more closely with Trump, many of Trump’s immigration and trade policies could hurt the country’s exports and remittances.
Trump lists two companies on his FEC filing registered in St. Martin, French West Indies: Excel Venture I LLC and Excel Venture I Corp. The companies are tied to residential rental properties, according to the disclosure.
A Trump representative recently visited Taiwan to explore building a luxury hotel on a government-backed development near the Taipei airport, according to the mayor of Taoyuan, Cheng Wen-tsan. The Trump Organization said it is not planning any developments in Taiwan but did not dispute that an employee assigned to promote hotel sales in Asia visited Taipei on a work-related trip in October, according to the New York Times. Trump recently spoke by phone with Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, breaking decades of diplomatic protocol and upsetting Chinese officials. China does not recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state, and the U.S. has not had diplomatic ties to the island since the 1970s.
Licensing deal to use his name on two currently operating luxury towers, one commercial and one residential, for which he received as much as $5 million last year, according to his latest financial disclosure. Shares in Dogan Sirketler Grubu Holding, his partner on the project, surged almost 11 percent after Trump’s victory. Trump said in an interview with Breitbart News that “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.” In a move that potentially puts pressure on Trump, a Dogan representative, Barbaros Muratogl, was recently jailed on allegations of keeping ties to a U.S.-based Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan has accused Gulen of planning this summer’s failed coup and reiterated calls for Gulen’s extradition in his congratulatory message to Trump.
Licensing deal with Dorya International to manufacture Trump-branded furniture. Dorya President and CEO F. Doruk Yorgancioglu was quoted saying that the line sells well in places like Dubai, Istanbul, China and Russia.
Trump lists companies on his FEC filing possibly related to a development project in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest city, located outside Mecca: DT Jeddah Technical Services Manager LLC, DT Jeddah Technical Services Manager Member Corp., THC Jeddah Hotel Manager LLC and THC Jeddah Hotel Manager Member Corp.
Six luxury condominum towers in Seoul, Busan and Daegu erected in 2007 by Daewoo Corp., which paid Trump for use of his name. Daewoo had previously built Trump World Tower in Manhattan.
Trump bought Turnberry, one of Scotland’s most iconic golf courses, in 2014 for about £41 million ($51 million). It lost £8.4 million in 2015.
He built from scratch a course north of Aberdeen against opposition from environmentalists. It, too, has failed to make a profit, losing £1.1 million in 2015. Also in that year, Trump lost a years-long fight with Scottish lawmakers to halt the construction of an offshore wind project being built near the golf course. Trump told the New York Times that he "might have brought it up" in a conversation with Nigel Farage, the former leader of the right-wing U.K. Independence Party, whom Trump has recommended for an ambassador position to the U.S.
The state-controlled Chinese bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., leases space in Trump Tower and is due to renegotiate its lease in 2019. This presents a possible conflict under the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars gifts from foreign governments.
Trump’s lease of a hotel near the White House has raised questions of whether stays by foreign governments violate the Constitution‘s emoluments clause, which bars gifts from foreign officials. According to the Washington Post, the Trump Organization held an event there one week after the election pitching the venue to foreign diplomats. In December, the Azerbaijani Embassy and the government of Bahrain held events there. The government of Kuwait also recently switched the location of its February national-day celebration from the Four Seasons to Trump‘s hotel.
Following Trump’s election, his Florida resort doubled its initiation fee to $200,000. During the campaign, Trump held fundraisers at Mar-a-Lago and has visited twice since the election, calling it the “Winter White House.” Ethics experts say membership could be seen as a way to buy proximity to the president or curry favor.
Trump Hotels is planning to open a hotel in Dallas, Texas, under its new Scion brand, according to a developer who has been in talks with the Trump Organization about the project. Some funding comes from investors in Turkey, Qatar and Kazakhstan. It is unclear how Trump’s promise to do no new foreign deals relates to domestic deals with international investors.
Licensing deal to develop a residential tower with Aetos SA, a company affiliated with YY Development, which is also Trump’s partner in Argentina.
Melania Trump owns an accessories business and a skincare line with combined royalties of no more than $50,000, Trump said in his May FEC disclosure. Ivanka Trump announced in January that she’d discontinue actively managing her own businesses, but hasn’t divested from them. Scion Hotels, owned by the Trump Organization, is among businesses now managed by Trump sons Eric and Don Jr.
Ivanka Trump sells apparel and accessories from scarves to handbags through fashion retailers. After Nordstrom Inc. announced Feb. 3 it would drop her line from its stores amid disappointing sales, Trump tweeted that the company had treated his daughter “so unfairly.” Presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway encouraged people to buy Ivanka Trump-branded clothes in a Feb. 9 interview on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends program. That triggered a bipartisan letter from the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to the Office of Government Ethics, encouraging it to recommend “disciplinary action, if warranted.”
First Lady Melania Trump is suing the Daily Mail, a British newspaper, saying a defamatory article it later retracted deprived her of the chance to launch a brand of clothing, shoes, jewelry and perfume. The article made it almost impossible to take advantage of “major business opportunities” available “for a multi-year term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world,” the lawsuit said. The amended complaint was filed on Feb. 7 in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan after a Maryland judge dismissed it.
Trump Hotels is considering expanding to as many as 26 U.S. cities, CEO Eric Danziger said at a January hospitality event. It currently operates in five. Under its new Scion brand, the first that doesn’t carry the Trump name, the company plans to open a location in Dallas, according to a developer who has been in talks with the Trump Organization about the project.
Trump’s businesses held at least $630 million of debt as of July, owed to international lenders such as Deutsche Bank and UBS. Vornado Realty Trust, the majority owner of two towers in which Trump also has a stake, owes money to Goldman Sachs and Bank of China. Trump has refused to disclose his tax returns, so it’s impossible to know if he has additional debts not tied to his businesses.
Bank of China holds part of a $950 million loan on an office building, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, in Manhattan. Trump has a 30 percent stake in the project.
Deutsche Bank is Trump’s biggest lender. The German company owns about half of the billionaire’s outstanding debt in loans tied to Trump’s hotel in Washington and Doral, a Miami golf resort. Unrelated to its loans to Trump, the bank reached a $7.2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice in December over an investigation of its sale of mortgage-backed securities. They are being investigated separately for a “systemic” failure to prevent money laundering.
Ladder Capital is Trump’s second-biggest lender. The New York-based firm has issued loans against Trump’s older real estate assets, including Trump Tower and 40 Wall St., an office tower, in Manhattan.
Before he was elected, Trump, his businesses and his financial partners were involved with several federal agencies. With billions of dollars, and possible criminal charges, at stake, he'll now oversee and appoint people to lead these same agencies.
Trump is going to be executive producer on the NBC reality show "The New Celebrity Apprentice" and continue to hold a “big stake” in the show. NBC is owned by Comcast, which is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, which the president oversees. Comcast recently sought a merger with Time Warner, which failed after regulators indiciated they had issues with the deal. Trump said that he would block a proposed AT&T-Time Warner deal. On Dec. 15, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he would depart the commission by Jan. 20, leaving Trump with two positions to fill.
Trump holds a 60-year lease to run Trump International Hotel in Washington’s historic Old Post Office. He paid about $200 million in renovation costs and will pay $3 million a year in rent to the General Services Administration. The lease agreement appears to forbid any elected official from being involved in the property. On Dec. 14, Democrats on the House oversight committee wrote a letter saying that GSA officials believe Trump must fully divest from the property to avoid being in breach of his lease. The GSA issued a statement saying that it would be “premature” to make a “definitive statement at this time about what would constitute a breach of the agreement.”
Trump’s taxes are currently under audit by the IRS. The commissioner is appointed by the president to five-year terms. The current commissioner’s term expires in 2018. The IRS is housed under the office of the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury within the Treasury Department. Trump will nominate new people for those positions.
Trump owes Deutsche Bank AG, his largest lender, about $300 million in loans against his Washington hotel and his Doral resort in Florida. Unrelated to its business with Trump, the Justice Department reached a $7.2 billion settlement with Deutsche Bank in December over its sale of mortgage-backed securities ahead of the 2008 financial crisis. The agency is separately investigating the bank for a “systemic” failure to prevent money laundering. Trump is set to name a new attorney general to run the Justice Department.
Trump International Hotel Las Vegas has asked a U.S. appeals court to overturn a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board finding the company in violation of federal law for refusing to bargain with a local union. Trump will appoint members of the NLRB board, which hears cases involving unfair labor practice allegations.
The New York Times reported on Dec. 21 that the Trump Organization provided a union contract for one group of workers at the hotel and made it easier for workers to unionize at Trump’s new hotel in Washington.
Trump could be poised to make millions of dollars off of his publicly financed Secret Service protection. During the campaign, the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service between $1.6 million and $8.5 million to fly on his aircraft. Trump could make even more money once he takes office: he has continued to fly around the country on his Boeing 757 jet with Secret Service in tow. And with Melania Trump and 10-year-old son Barron planning to remain in their Trump Tower condo once Trump occupies the White House, the NY Post estimates it might cost as much as $3 million a year, payable to Trump, for the Secret Service to rent space in the building. It’s less clear who would be responsible for the costs of advanced security at Trump-branded properties around the world. The security of every president or president-elect costs the public money, but it is unusual that Trump has profited from some of those funds.
According to his FEC Filing, Trump has hundreds of millions in loans to cover his real estate projects, which could be affected by U.S. monetary policy. While the Fed is structured to be resistant to changes in administration, Trump took aim at Fed Chair Janet Yellen during the campaign and, with the help of Congress, could take steps to change how the central bank operates.
Trump faced criticism over how his personal investments could influence his policies as president. He held millions of dollars in banking and energy holdings and stood to benefit from policies that would weaken financial regulations or increase oil and gas development. On Dec. 6, Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, said the president-elect had sold all his stock in June. Miller did not provide documentation that verified the sale, and none of Trump’s stakes was large enough to require disclosure. Some of his stock holdings seem related to actions he’s taken as president-elect. His FEC disclosure listed a small stake in United Technologies, with which Trump recently brokered a $7 million deal in state tax breaks and other incentives to keep about 800 jobs in the U.S. These are the industries Trump was most heavily invested in according to his May FEC filing.