Add Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations to Trump syndicate’s rap sheet

Add another violation of federal law to the growing potential rap sheet that may be brought against Donald Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and other members of the Trump and Kushner business organizations: violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977. There is a growing mountain of evidence that Trump, Kushner, and their associates may have offered rewards, including Oval Office access to potential foreign investors in Trump and Kushner properties.

The news that Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now cooperating with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman means that Schneiderman’s investigative files on Trump and Kushner are now available to the special counsel and his team of investigators, many of whom are already familiar with the unsavory individuals and businesses surrounding Trump Organization/Kushner Companies business activities over several decades.

Under the provisions of the FCPA, it is illegal for any company or their officers to influence foreign officials with personal payments or rewards. Granting access to the Trump White House or any other federal entity by Trump or Kushner or their associates, in return for foreign investments in Trump or Kushner properties, whether in the United States or abroad, would constitute a violation of the spirit and intent of the FCPA.

The FCPA stipulates that it is unlawful for a U.S. person to make a payment, monetarily or “in kind,” to a foreign official for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person. The 1998 FCPA Amendment expands the law’s jurisdiction to any foreign firms and persons who are involved in corrupt payments while present in the United States. The term “foreign official” is a broad one that includes banks, government-owned corporations, or what are known as “parastatal” enterprises comprising a mix of government and private investors.

This past May, Kushner’s sister Nicole Kushner Meyer pitched a U.S. visa deal to a group of wealthy Chinese real estate investors in return for their investing in a Kushner property in Jersey City. Ms. Meyer promised the Chinese EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visas, which can be fast-tracked to permanent residency “green cards,” in return for their investment in the One Journal Square condominium development, a project that has also involved the Trump Organization. Most large Chinese businesses involve one or more individuals, usually family members, who are directly tied to the Chinese government. Kushner Companies’ records on the One Journal Square project and the potential Chinese EB-5 investors have reportedly been subpoenaed by Mueller.

Andrew Kreig, a Washington-based attorney who heads the Justice Integrity Project, agrees that Trump, Kushner and associates are on shaky legal ground if violations of the FCPA are uncovered by Mueller’s investigators.

Kushner, Donald Trump, Jr. and Paul Manafort, may all find themselves mired in an FCPA violation if Manafort’s notes on “donations” to the Republican National Committee were a quid pro quo for favors granted to two Russian lobbyists, Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin. Kushner, Trump, Jr., Manafort and the two lobbyists attended a June 9, 2016, meeting at the Trump Tower in New York, a meeting President Trump described as only dealing with adoptions of Russian children by Americans. There are strong indications that President Trump lied about the purpose of the meeting, which reportedly discussed the dropping of Magnitsky Act sanctions against Russia if Trump won the election. It is also known that the Trump Organization was pitching a Trump Tower office complex in Moscow that involved Russian oligarchs Aras and Emin Agalarov, whose representative, Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, was also present at the June 9 meeting. In the case of Veselnitskaya, provisions of the FCPA might apply to the meeting and any promises of payments by Russian entities to the RNC, considering Veselnitskaya’s close links to the Russian government.

The Trump Organization may have also violated the terms of the FCPA in dubious real estate ventures in Panama, Azerbaijan, South Korea, India, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, and other countries.

The FCPA was originally passed to address the bribery of foreign officials by American corporations, the most egregious being bribes paid by Lockheed to Japanese government officials in return for Japanese defense contracts and bribes of Honduran government officials by Chiquita Brands. Since its inception, the FCPA has been used to convict former U.S. Representative William Jefferson for bribes to African governments, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company for bribes of Kenyan and Angolan government officials, Kellogg, Brown & Root for bribes to Nigerian officials, and other companies, including Hewlett-Packard, ALCOA, and Walmart de Mexico.

It is clear that President Trump favors bribery as a way of doing business. He has called the FCPA a “horrible law” and that as a result of enforcing it, “the world is laughing at us.” Trump’s Securities and Exchange Commission chairman, Jay Clayton, has expressed his opposition to the FCPA. Clayton, an attorney, represented TeliaSonera, partly-owned by Russian telecommunications oligarch Mikhail Fridman, an individual who is linked to Trump and Kushner syndicate operations.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2017

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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