Donald Trump Jr to launch two mega real estate projects in India

Donald Trump Jr to launch two mega real estate projects in India

NEW YORK:US President Donald Trump's eldest son is headed to India on a sales trip for the family real estate business despite concerns over the president's potential conflicts of interest with foreign governments, according to media reports.

Donald Trump Junior, who has been in charge of the Trump Organization along with his brother Eric since their father relinquished control of the company after becoming president, will launch a range of properties, including one in Gurgaon, 19 miles from New Delhi, and another in Kolkata.

The visit by the younger Trump, intended to help sell more than US$1 billion (S$1.31 billion) in luxury residential units being built by the Trumps and their local partners, has been promoted with newspaper advertisements that read: "Trump has arrived. Have you?" The New York Times reported Sunday.

At both projects, anyone who agreed to buy a Trump property before February 21 was promised the chance of "a conversation and dinner" with the US president's son before the end of the month. And amid concerns in the US that the Trump family's business interests risk clashing with its political ones, Trump Jr is also reported to have agreed to speak at a business summit, which will be attended by several senior Indian ministers.

The Washington Post reported that the latest deed was signed before the Trump Organization's pledge to avoid new foreign dealings during Trump's time in the White House.

Trump Jr's week-long itinerary of cocktail parties, dinners and events with real estate brokers, business leaders and prospective buyers comes as President Trump is pushing to strengthen ties between the two countries, the Times said.

The NYT dispatch said, "The president, who enjoys widespread popularity in India, was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a bear hug in Washington in June, and the two leaders have frequently discussed greater military cooperation and ramping up trade.

"Trump has also taken a harder line toward Pakistan and China, two of India's rivals. Two weeks ago, Trump phoned Modi pledging 'to strengthen security and economic cooperation' between India and the United States.

"The overlap in India between father and son creates a spectacle with few parallels in business and diplomacy."

The younger Trump is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi Monday on a Boeing 757 nicknamed 'Trump Force One', because the president criss-crossed the United States on the plane during the 2016 election campaign, NYT said.

The Trump family earned as much as US$3 million in royalties in 2016 from ventures in India, according to the president's financial disclosure report. And Ivanka Trump made her own trip to India in November, in her capacity as a member of Trump administration, just as sales were about to start on some of the residential projects, it was pointed out.

"The idea that the president's son would be going and shilling the president's brand at same time Donald Trump is president and is managing strategic and foreign relations with India - that is just bizarre," Daniel S. Markey, who helped coordinate South Asia policy at the State Department during the George W. Bush administration, was quoted as saying in the New York Times dispatch.

There are no formal federal rules that prohibit Trump Jr from pursuing his business interests; he is a private citizen. And even though his father is still a beneficial owner of the family business, he is not subject to conflict of interest laws, as the president is exempt.

The White House, asked if Trump Jr's trip gave even an appearance of a conflict of interest, declined to comment on the matter.

India is the Trump Organisation's biggest international market, with four real estate projects underway, the Times said.

The largest is in Gurgaon, a fast-growing city outside New Delhi with a litany of Fortune 500 companies and a skyline filled with skyscrapers.

The Trump development encompasses two towers with a total of 254 "ultra luxury" units, according to the company, each selling for as much as US$1.5 million, the report said.

The luxury apartment buildings near the Trump development in Gurgaon have names like Palm Springs and Central Park, even as they overlook pothole-ridden highways, it said.

The Trumps and their partners are offering buyers the opportunity to become "members of the Trump family," with the promise of exclusive amenities such as an infinity swimming pool, a billiards room and valet services.

The marketing materials, however, do not mention the president - his name and image, as well as that of his daughter Ivanka, who joined his administration, were removed from brochures, websites and billboards.

Trump Jr, in an interview in New York last week, said he had spent nearly a decade "cultivating relationships in India," and the company was "now seeing the response of that effort."

To that point, the newspaper advertisements in India featured large photographs of him, arms crossed and staring into the camera.

The younger Trump said his itinerary did not include interactions with government officials in an intentional effort to steer clear of politics.

"We certainly won't get involved in that," he said, when asked if the company would seek concessions or incentives for the developments from Indian officials. "Not at all."

He is scheduled, nonetheless, to speak at the Global Business Summit in New Delhi, sponsored by a prominent Indian newspaper and a bank, who say the event will "showcase India's rise in world affairs." Trump Jr is billed as a keynote speaker, along with Modi.APP/AFP