Trump strikes new overseas deal, raises old ethics issue


By BERNARD CONDON, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s company is granting a license in his name for a golf resort in Oman in the first of what the company hopes will be several overseas deals, raising issues of conflict of ownership. interests as the former president prepares to announce a possible third run for the White House.

The Trump Organization said the licensing deal – the first since Trump left office – is with Saudi developer Dar Al Arakan and will include a golf course, hotel and thousands of residential units in the capital. Omani from Muscat.

Trump’s son Eric, who oversees the company’s global real estate interests, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the company was no longer bound by a self-imposed restriction not to enter into foreign transactions while his father was president.

“You can expect more overseas hotel and golf deals in the future,” Eric Trump said in a text exchange.

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Trump was due to announce on Tuesday that he is running for president again in a speech from his club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump’s company secured numerous overseas real estate licensing deals before it entered the White House, including for hotels and residential towers in Canada, Dubai, Mexico, India and Turkey. Some branding experts expected him to put his name on other buildings after leaving office, with the added brand appeal of a former US president.

With the possibility of Trump running again, the company could feel pressure to move quickly to add to the deal with Oman. When asked if the company would end such dealings if his father were elected, Eric Trump replied, “Why would we do things differently?”

The New York Times, which first reported the deal with the Saudi developer, said the $1.6 billion resort in Oman will have around 400 hotel rooms and 3,500 residential units.

Trump’s close ties to Saudi Arabia’s ruling crown prince have drawn sharp criticism following his blockade of US ally Qatar during his administration and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post reporter critical of the regime. .

Since leaving office, Trump has held two tournaments at his properties for the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf series which critics say should not take place in the US given the regime’s record in matters of human rights. Trump’s son-in-law and former senior aide Jared Kushner also caught the attention of Democrats for a $2 billion investment from a Saudi sovereign wealth fund for his investment fund launched after he left the White House.

Unlike Trump’s construction and ownership ventures earlier in his career, licensing offers a relatively easy and risk-free way to generate money assuming his brand stays strong. Prior to his 2016 election, Trump’s real estate licensing deals generated up to $30 million in revenue in the 17 months to May of that year, according to financial documents he had to file as candidate. Much of that revenue was profit since it was Trump’s partners who owned the businesses and bore the costs, not him.

The exact amount of profit is unclear, but longtime Trump finance chief Allen Weisselberg told Businessweek in a 2015 interview that the company overall earns about 50 cents on every dollar of revenue, in part thanks to the licenses. Since the Trump Organization is private, confirming these numbers is nearly impossible.

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