President Donald Trump's sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, are set to head two real estate projects in India.
The announcement, reported by the Washington Post Oct. 28, comes despite concerns over the president's potential conflicts of interest with foreign governments.
The Trump Organization had previously pledged not to embark on new foreign deals during Trump's time in the Oval Office, according to the report.
The publication noted that the two India projects had been inked before Trump was elected president.
This announcement brings an asterisk to the organization’s pledge, as any agreement made prior to the 2016 election is open to continue, the report said. That includes a deal to build a resort in the Dominican Republic, which was struck in 2007.
The president did not divest his assets after he was elected and instead placed his business empire into a trust controlled by sons Donald, Jr., and Eric, who has traveled to Uruguay and accompanied Don, Jr., to introduce a Trump-branded luxury golf course in Dubai and a hotel in Vancouver, the publication said.
The Trump Organization has licensed its name to five projects in India despite a sluggish market for high-end luxury residences.
The new Trump-branded tower in the eastern city of Kolkata will have apartments priced at $765,000 and under; a project in the capital suburb of Gurgaon will feature units starting at $1.8 million and golf course access. The other projects include two residential towers in Pune, a 75-story tower still under construction in Mumbai that will have a shimmering gold facade, and a proposed office in Gurgaon, the Post reported.
The Mumbai tower is being built by the family company of Mangal Prabhat Lodha. The Lodha Group was investigated for $30 million in untaxed revenue and fined $1 million; the company eventually settled the tax bill for an undisclosed amount, according to the report.
Basant Bansal, co-founder of M3M India, one of the developers of the Gurgaon high-rise, caught the attention of tax investigators twice, records show, once in 2008 and again in 2011, when authorities seized cash worth $48 million in a raid on the company’s offices. A tax investigator said Bansal ultimately paid the taxes he owed, it said.
Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have also questioned the fact that taxpayer-funded Secret Service agents accompany the Trump sons on these private business excursions, racking up thousands in hotel bills and straining the agency’s budget, the Post noted.
Trump’s licensing arrangements in India have brought in between $1.6 million and $11 million in royalties since 2014 — including royalties stated in a range from $100,001 to $1 million last year from the Kolkata project, Trump’s financial filings show, it said.
The Trump-branded properties have faced slow sales of their own in the down market, complicated by the fact that the apartments are often listed at higher prices than nearby real estate because of the name, the report said.
The Trump Organization has long isolated itself from the vagaries of foreign real estate markets by opting for lucrative name-licensing deals over its own investment, and has in the past made money even when ventures falter or fail, analysts say, according to the Post.