Donald Trump’s company has partnered with Indian developers to create more business ventures than in any other foreign nation or territory, a Washington Post analysis of financial filings shows. In doing so, the Trump Organization has forged deals with leading moguls here, and with a billionaire politician.
One Trump-branded project is under investigation for land-acquisition irregularities, among several projects in India now prompting conflict-of-interest concerns.
The president-elect – who has called India a “great country” – is involved in at least 16 partnerships or corporations here. Those business interests – and the financial relationship with a leading member of the governing party – will be a significant backdrop to Trump administration policy toward the world’s most populous democracy – and toward its warily hostile neighbor, Pakistan.
At an October campaign event with the Indian-American community in New Jersey, Trump boasted of his “massive” and “very beautiful” development projects in the country and vowed that the relations between India and the United States would be “the best ever.”
The Trump Organization has struck lucrative licensing deals to lend its name to a luxury high-rise Trump Tower in Mumbai, a residential project in the smaller city of Pune, a large office-and-retail complex in high-tech hub of Gurgaon, outside the capital, and another residential project and tower in Kolkata. Two Trump businesses associated with the Kolkata .
project were organized in November 2015, after Trump had formally begun his campaign for president.
At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East, the analysis showed, ranging from luxury real estate complexes to small holding companies and branding deals. Some of the properties had multiple entities created for a single deal, records showed.
A consortium of watchdog groups has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and called for the president-elect to set up a proper blind trust for his vast empire, instead of turning over the day-to-day management to his three grown children, as he has suggested he will do.
“To sell the Trump name in a foreign country, that’s just an excellent way to have him receiving gifts from all over the world. They’ll say, ‘I’ll just pay you to get the name Trump on my building,’ as a way to curry favor,” said Richard Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush.
Painter said that if “foreign government money got in there through the back door” that would be a violation of the constitutional ban of foreign gifts to U.S. officials, a potentially impeachable offense.