A Washington Post story from Sunday ties Trump son-in-law and campaign consultant Jared Kushner to involvement in all three when Kushner profited handsomely from a real estate deal made through Germany's Deutsche Bank just before joining the Trump campaign in an official capacity.
The Deutsche Bank deal was one of the last Kushner orchestrated before joining the White House. It is among the dozens of complex transactions that he was involved with during his decade in the real estate business.
Although Kushner divested some properties in an effort to address potential conflicts, he retains an interest in nearly 90 percent of his real estate properties, including the retail portion of the former New York Times headquarters, and holds personal debts and loan guarantees.
The deal that led to the Deutsche Bank loan is rooted in a holiday party held in late 2014 at the Bowlmor bowling alley, which is located in the retail portion.
At the party, Kushner decided that the four retail floors of the building, while rundown, could be transformed into a thriving tourist destination, according to his associates.
The building passed through several owners after the newspaper sold the property for $175 million in 2004 to Tishman Speyer. Tishman sold it three years later for $525 million to a company called Africa-Israel Investments. (Those transactions prompted Trump a few months ago to poke fun at the Times, tweeting that the “dopes” at the newspaper “gave it away.”)
Africa-Israel’s decision to purchase the building was made by its chairman, an Uzbek-born Israeli citizen, Lev Leviev. He is one of the world’s wealthiest men, known as the “King of Diamonds” for his extensive holdings in Africa, Israel and Russia. He was then expanding his real estate holdings in New York City.
Leviev told the New York Times shortly after the building’s purchase that he was a “true friend” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, largely through his work with an influential Jewish organization in the former Soviet Union. The newspaper wrote that he kept a photo of Putin in his office in Israel. Leviev’s company said in a statement to The Post that Leviev “does not have a personal relationship” with Putin but has met him “on a few occasions.” Leviev’s statement said he was referring to his belief that “Mr. Putin has been a ‘true friend’ to the Jewish people in Russia.”
In 2008, a year after the building’s purchase, Leviev invited Trump to his Madison Avenue store, an ultra-high-end establishment called Leviev Jewelry, where they were photographed together, according to the Leviev statement. Leviev hoped to work with Trump on Moscow real estate deals, according to an article in Kommersant, a Russian newspaper. The Leviev statement said that the two “never had any business dealings with one another, contrary to speculation.”
Six years later, Kushner saw an opportunity for his own company.
Leviev, whose company was having financial difficulties, according to an Israeli press account, sold the building’s 12-floor office portion for $160 million, a transaction that did not involve the four retail floors.
Leviev’s daughter, Chagit, took charge of her father’s U.S. subsidiary and set out to find a buyer for the retail portion of the building. The company said it would entertain offers no lower than $300 million.
Kushner’s company offered $265 million, which was rejected. Kushner himself then negotiated with Chagit Leviev and others in 2015 and succeeded with a $296 million offer, according to an official involved in the matter.
“It was a very hard back-and-forth New York negotiating style,” said Kushner’s broker, Lon Rubackin. Leviev’s partner in the deal, Five Mile Capital, did not respond to a request for comment.
Few knew it at the time, but the negotiations were nearly consummated when Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, ran into Chagit Leviev on May 4, 2015, at an after-party for a Metropolitan Museum of Art gala — an encounter that was memorialized in a picture posted on Instagram.
“Such a pleasure seeing @jaredckushner and his stunningly beautiful wife @ivankatrump last night [at] the #metballafterparty,” Chagit Leviev wrote.
The deal was signed a week later and closed in October 2015. The Leviev company said in a statement to The Post that Kushner simply made the highest offer and “there was no political element to the transaction.”
Kushner took over a property that was only 25 percent leased, according to a company official. His company recruited tenants, offering some a year’s free rent to lock in long-term contracts, according to an SEC filing. As a result, the building was nearly fully leased, with higher rents, including new tenants such as National Geographic.
The strategy paid off when Kushner’s company went to Deutsche Bank for refinancing. An appraisal cited in SEC filings for the package of mortgage-backed securities placed the value at $470 million, a 59 percent increase in a year. The bank declined to release the appraisal, but a person involved in the deal said that such a rapid increase was unusual when New York real estate was rebounding from recession, and credited Kushner for finding stellar tenants.
So Kushner just happens to end up making a crapton of money through a bank that was fined for not keeping sufficient tabs on Russian money laundering, and did so with the help of a major Russian oligarch friend of Putin's who just happens to be an expert in a relatively easy method of moving large amounts of cash through something like, I don't know, diamonds.
All this happens a month before Trump is elected.
Kushner didn't bother to disclose this deal that by all rights he should have been very proud of, following in his father-in-law's footsteps as a real estate business tycoon.
The cases against Deutsche Bank were then both settled within weeks of Trump taking office.
So much smoke here there's a probably a small volcano under midtown Manhattan.
But remember this is all fake news because Dear Leader Don says so.