White House releases financial disclosures for senior officials including Kushner, Bannon, Conway | News | DW | 01.04.2017
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White House releases financial disclosures for senior officials including Kushner, Bannon, Conway

Presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have held on to holdings worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Ethics watchdogs worry that Trump's wealthy White House team faces many conflicts of interest.

Financial disclosures released by the White House on Friday show that senior officials were among the wealthiest people ever to join a presidential administration.

The documents reveal that President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, had resigned from their businesses when they entered the White House, but that they - as well as the president himself - have retained a financial interest in many of them.

Ivanka Trump and Kushner - both of whom serve as senior advisers to the president - held onto real estate and business investments valued at between $240 million and $741 million (225 million euros and 695 million euros).

Kushner, like Donald Trump a real estate developer and heir to a family fortune, resigned from 266 companies and sold off 58 businesses or investments that lawyers identified as posing potential conflicts of interest.

USA Donald Trump und Jared Kushner (picture-alliance/CNP/O. Douliery)

As Trump's senior advisor, Jared Kushner is seen as a key influencer on both domestic and foreign policy issues

Kushner's disclosure also showed that he took on tens of millions of dollars of bank debt with several international institutions whose interests could conflict with the interests of the US administration. The 36-year-old has liabilities at Deutsche Bank worth roughly $25 million and shares liabilities of up to $5 million at the US unit of Israel Discount Bank with his father, Charles.

Ivanka Trump kept a stake in the Trump International Hotel, located near the White House, that is valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

The president announced that his daughter would join the administration as an unpaid adviser on Wednesday. Kushner had recently been named head of the newly founded Office of Innovation.

USA Weißes Haus Stephen Bannon Kellyanne Conway (Reuters/K. Lamarque)

Both Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon and counselor Kellyanne Conway are worth up to $56 million and $40 million, respectively

Bannon, Conway, Priebus

Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, owned assets worth between $13 million and $56 million when he entered the White House. This included his ownership of an entertainment company that produced last year's anti-Hillary Clinton documentary "Clinton Cash" and a stake in Cambridge Analytica. That data firm was the main data provider for Ted Cruz, Trump's closest competitor in the 2016 Republican primary. According to the disclosure, Bannon has an "agreement in principle" to sell his shares of Cambrige Analytica.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's former campaign manager who now serves as White House counselor, was worth up to $40 million, derived mostly from her political consulting firm. She owned stock in drug giant Pfizer, food conglomerates Kraft Heinz and Mondelez, and tobacco companies Altria and Philip Morris, according to the financial documents.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, earned over $500,000 as chairman of the Republican National Committee. He also made at least $750,000 from equity buyout and income from a law firm he worked at.

Business news site Bloomberg estimated Trump's cabinet and senior staff are worth some $12 billion.

While press secretary Sean Spicer said the disclosure forms showed that senior staff set "a lot" aside to go into public service, ethics watchdogs and Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns that Trump officials face more conflicts interest due to their investments than people in previous administrations.

USA New York Donald Trump Holds in der Wahlnacht mit Reince Priebus (Getty Images/C. Somodevilla)

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus earned more than half a million dollars as RNC chair

Disclosure required by law

Most top White House officials are required by law to reveal their financial status in order to make potential conflicts of interest transparent. The forms provide a snapshot of their assets when they came into public office and do not necessarily represent what they still have. The Office of Government Ethics reviews the disclosures. Staff members who could face a potential conflict of interest have to enter into ethics agreements, mandating them to resign from positions and divest from assets that are questionable.

Financial information for most members of Trump's cabinet - as opposed to White House staff - had already been released ahead of their Senate confirmation hearings.

President Trump released a financial disclosure form in May 2016 during the presidential race. He and Vice President Mike Pence are not legally required to file new financial disclosures until next year.

The former real-estate developer caused a stir when he handed off control of his business not to a blind trust, but to his two oldest sons, an arrangement ethics experts believe does not avoid conflicts of interests thoroughly enough. Unlike all recent, major presidential candidates, Trump also refused to release his tax return information ahead of last year's election.

mb/sms (AFP, AP; dpa, Reuters)

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