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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Jared Kushner under renewed scrutiny 

Special Counsel Mueller investigates Trump son-in-law's bid to get foreign investment beyond Russia 

Jared Kushner, advisor and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, speaks on his cellphone before a meeting between President Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May in January 2018. Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing Mr Kushner's efforts to get foreign investors beyond Russia to provide financing for his company during the presidential transition, including in China. Nicholas Kamm / AFP
Jared Kushner, advisor and son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, speaks on his cellphone before a meeting between President Trump and the British Prime Minister Theresa May in January 2018. Special counsel Robert Mueller is probing Mr Kushner's efforts to get foreign investors beyond Russia to provide financing for his company during the presidential transition, including in China. Nicholas Kamm / AFP

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Jared Kushner's efforts to encourage foreign investors beyond Russia to provide financing for his company during the presidential transition, including in China, CNN reported on Monday.

The investigation was previously said to have only focused on the Russia contacts of President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, only with the campaign's data analytics and Mr Kushner's ties with disgraced ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Mr Mueller's team is looking into Mr Kushner's conversations during the presidential transition to get financing for the Kushner Companies-backed 666 Fifth Avenue office building in New York after financial setbacks, CNN said, citing people familiar with the investigation.

Mr Kushner's father founded the real estate developer and lender.

CNN said Mr Mueller's investigators have yet to contact Kushner Companies or request interviews with its executives, and the reasons behind the focus on the outreach to foreign investors are unclear.

Mr Kushner played a leading role in the presidential transition team's contacts with foreign governments, and has indicated he spoke during that time with more than 50 contacts from more than15 countries.

One week after Mr Trump's November 8, 2016 election, Mr Kushner met with the chairman and other executives from the Chinese group Anbang Insurance, The New York Times newspaper has reported.

Mr Kushner and Anbang chairman Wu Xiaohui were close to clinching a deal for the Chinese conglomerate to invest in 666 Fifth Avenue, but the talks broke down.

Other business dealings targeted by Mr Mueller include negotiations on the same property with Qatar's former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, but that deal also failed.

Mr Kushner purchased the building in 2007 for $1.8 billion in a mostly debt deal, but the housing crisis triggered financial setbacks for 666 Fifth Avenue, leading Vornado Realty Trust to take a 49.5 per cent stake in 2011.

"In all of Mr Kushner's extensive co-operation with all inquiries, there has not been a single question asked nor document sought on the 666 building or Kushner Co deals," an attorney for Mr Kushner, Abbe Lowell, told CNN.

"Nor would there be any reason to question these regular business transactions."

Mr Kushner also met Sergey Gorkov, chairman of Russian state-run Vnesheconombank, during the transition, but he testified in congress that the meeting was only for official government purposes.

However, the bank has said the talks were part of a series of business meetings. And The Washington Post newspaper has reported that Mr Mueller is investigating that meeting as well.

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