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White House Examines Kushner's Business Loans from Apollo, Citigroup

Apollo and Citigroup provided more than $500 million of loans to Kushner Cos. last year.

  • By Christine Idzelis

The White House is investigating whether loans from Apollo Global Management and Citigroup to Jared Kushner's family business violated ethics rules, according a letter made public by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. 

David Apol, acting director of the Office of Government Ethics, said in a March 22 letter to Democratic lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi that the White House Counsel Office is examining Kushner's actions to determine whether they constituted "a breach of his ethical obligations to the American people."

Last year, Apollo and Citigroup made more than $500 million of loans to the family real estate business of Kushner, President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, according to a February 28 report by The New York Times. The report detailed meetings that Kushner had at the White House with Apollo co-founder Joshua Harris and Citigroup chief executive officer Michael Corbat.

"I have discussed this matter with the White House Counsel's Office in order to ensure that they have begun the process of ascertaining the facts necessary to determine whether any law or regulation has been violated," Apol said in the letter to Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who sits on the House Oversight Committee. "During that discussion, the White House informed me that they had already begun this process."

In November 2017, Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance, a publicly-traded real estate investment trust managed by an Apollo affiliate, made a $184 million loan to Kushner Cos. to refinance an office building in Chicago, according to a letter sent by Apollo attorney Kevin Downey to Senator Elizabeth Warren and other members of Congress. Kushner and Apollo co-founder Josh Harris never discussed any loans to Kushner Cos., Downey said in the letter.

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The $184 million loan wasn't large compared to others provided by the real estate investment trust, and was much smaller than many made by Apollo's credit unit, according to the letter.

Last year, Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance also provided a $75 million mezzanine loan to help finance Kushner Cos.'s purchase of a stake in properties in Brooklyn, with Citigroup supplying a $325 million mortgage for the deal.

"This transaction was done in the normal course of Citi's commercial real estate lending business, received the necessary credit and risk approvals without input from Mr. Corbat, and was unrelated to any discussions with Mr. Kushner, who played no role in the loan origination or negotiation process with Citi for the DUMBO Heights transaction," the bank's general counsel, Rohan Weerasinghe, said in a separate letter to Senator Warren and other members of Congress.

Spokespeople for Apollo and Citigroup declined to comment. 

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