(Bloomberg)—Charles and Murray Kushner have been called the Cain and Abel of New Jersey real estate, feuding publicly for more than a decade through competing property empires. One thing now unites the brothers: Both have had projects promoted to Chinese investors by playing the White House card.
Charles is the father of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. His prolonged quarrel with Murray has sparked fraud allegations, newspaper comparisons to biblical fury, lawsuits and a revenge plot that landed Charles in prison.
Yet early this month, a Jersey City apartment project being developed by Murray’s company, the KRE Group, was pitched to investors in China with a promotion that includes images of Jared, his wife Ivanka Trump and the president.
“Work hand-in-hand with Trump son-in-law Kushner,” said the pitch, which hasn’t previously been reported. It told the investors that by putting $500,000 in the planned apartment tower at 235 Grand Street, they could qualify for a U.S. resident visa through a program known as EB-5, aimed at attracting foreign funds to help develop neglected areas and promote jobs.
Neither Jared nor the Trumps have any involvement with the project, according to spokesmen for Kushner Cos. and KRE. Jared and the president have been accused of using their offices to promote their family businesses. Now the extended and estranged branch of the family seems to have joined in.
When word got back to Kushner Cos., the company Jared ran along with his father until he entered the White House as a senior adviser early this year, it set off another family uproar, with Charles Kushner’s lawyers sending a cease-and-desist letter to KRE and its partners, one of the partners said.
Kushner Cos. had come under fire only a week earlier for doing the same thing in China, using photos of Jared, Ivanka and the president at public presentations to investors for its own Jersey City project at One Journal Square. That pitch, too, involved the EB-5 visa program, which some members of Congress would like to tighten or eliminate because of evidence that it has become a means of selling residency to wealthy foreigners.
Moreover, as questions have arisen about Jared Kushner’s contacts with Russians, the New York Times reported that Trump expressed special anger over the Kushner Cos. China pitch. Jared’s sister, Nicole Meyer, had mentioned his role in the administration during her presentations in Beijing and Shanghai, leading the company to apologize and cancel a subsequent meeting.
KRE and Murray Kushner declined to comment on the use of Jared’s name and image. A partner in the project, Dave Barry, said it was unintentional and blamed Noah Visa, a Beijing marketing company. Barry, president of Ironstate Development Co., said the developers worked with a consulting company called New York Immigration Fund to put together the pitch. Ironstate, which is based in Hoboken, N.J., and has developed an assortment of major projects in New York and New Jersey, worked with that consultant on a previous EB-5 project, Barry said. This time, Barry said, New York Immigration Fund subcontracted work with the Chinese marketing company, which created the promotional information. New York Immigration Fund didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eric Yuan, a manager and part owner of the Chinese company, Noah Visa, at first denied having included Jared’s name or photo in its promotion of 235 Grand Street. When told that there were links to, and screen shots of the promotion on the company’s website as well as on its Wechat account, announcing a May 13 session in its office, he pointed the finger elsewhere.
“The media did that to push hot topics; we didn’t do it,” he said. “Jared has nothing to do with the project.”
Yuan did confirm that Noah has stopped promoting the project, adding that the May 13 session was canceled for lack of interested investors.
When told that one of the partners, Dave Barry, had said something different -- that the subcontract was ended because of the misleading promotion -- Yuan hung up the phone.
--With assistance from Caleb Melby.To contact the reporters on this story: David Kocieniewski in New York at [email protected] ;Wenxin Fan in Shanghai at [email protected] ;David M. Levitt in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Papadopoulos at [email protected] Ethan Bronner, Melinda Grenier
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