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Loans From China: A Private Political Hot Potato

Loans China Politics

As of mid-2016, Donald Trump, real estate developer and television celebrity, had investments in or owned 500 companies in at least 20 countries. Just weeks prior to his Presidential inauguration, a former White House ethics lawyer argued that Trump would be a violation of the constitution "on day one" due to his domestic and businesses abroad. 

Even though Trump handed control of the Trump Organization over to his sons in 2017, allegations persist that he is profiting by continuing to use businesses for governmental and personal events. 

In February this year, the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported that since assuming the presidency, Trump has racked up more than 3,000 conflicts of interest from his refusal to divest from his businesses. That averages out to approximately 2.5 conflicts of interest per day.

According to the report, 134 foreign officials and 123 members of the U.S. Congress have visited a business owned by Trump, while foreign governments have granted President Trump’s businesses 65 trademarks while he’s been in office. 

"President Trump has sent a clear message to special interests, foreign governments, and others trying to influence the federal government that his presidency is effectively for sale," the report said. 

In light of that, an additional concern is that the Trump Organization owes millions to foreign banks, and some of those loans are coming due soon.

According to a report by Politico, Trump and his business partners Vornado Realty Trust are on the hook to the Chinese government to the tune of $211 million.

The debt derives from a 30% share the US president owns in a 43-story New York office tower at 1290 Avenue of the Americas. The loan is set to mature in 2022; or, if re-elected, it would be due halfway through his second term in office. 

The loan was refinanced in 2012, with $211 million of the funding coming from the state-owned Bank of China. The bank in question is the same one that Trump linked to a $1.5 billion investment plan announced by Biden's son Hunter in 2013.

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As the economy is crumbling and the president’s management of the pandemic lowers his approval rates, Trump shifted his campaign against Biden, accusing him of being too soft on China or even controlled by Beijing.

President Trump recently warned that if Biden were to win the election, China, among other nations, would effectively own the United States.

Despite all, Trump businesses are maintaining good relations with China, trade war and rhetoric aside. The Trump Organization has been granted more than 100  Chinese trademarks, and the majority of those that were applied for a decade earlier were reportedly hastily approved just days after Trump’s election night win.

Additionally, a Chinese state-owned construction company is helping build the Trump World Golf Club in Dubai, UAE.

Nor is China the only country to which the Trump Organization owes money. 

The company has been talking with Deutsche Bank, Trump's major lender for real estate projects, about the possibility of delaying loan payments. The Trump Organization owes Deutsche Bank more than $300 million in loans connected to the Washington hotel, his Doral golf resort in Florida and a tower in Chicago downtown.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns, which would give a much clearer indication of his wealth and business interests. In May 2016, Trump released a disclosure form that his campaign at the time showed his net worth was $10 billion. Some critics disputed that figure as overblown.

Earlier this year, Forbes valued the president net worth at $3.1 billion. And then the pandemic shaved one billion off that.

This month’s $2-trillion economic package prevents the president and his family from benefiting from some of the package's programs. However, analysis by ProPublica revealed that the package could provide aid to some of the Trump-owned hotels and his winery in Virginia. 

For instance, individual hotels in Trump's real estate empire could potentially apply for small business loans if they have fewer than 500 employees, watchdog groups have said, though there is no evidence this has happened. 

The Trump Organization has applied for bailout money in the UK and Ireland to help cover salaries for employees at its three golf money-losing resorts, according to reports. 

By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com 

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