Jared Kushner's PE Firm Secures $2B Investment From Fund Led By Saudi Crown Prince
Jared Kushner's main business venture after leaving the White House has done little to quiet concerns that he used his government position to further business interests.
The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, the country's primary sovereign wealth fund, invested a total of $2B into Affinity Partners, the private equity firm Kushner co-founded after ex-President Donald Trump left office, The New York Times reports.
Affinity disclosed in its most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing on March 31 that its principal investment vehicle, Affinity Partners Fund, had raised $2.5B, making PIF easily Kushner's biggest financial backer. PIF's investment came just six months after Kushner returned to the private sector once Trump left office, the Times reports. The Affinity fund initially targeted a fundraising total of $7B.
PIF's decision to invest such a large sum into Affinity appeared to overrule the fund's investment screening panel, which raised concerns about devoting so much capital to a newly formed fund that hasn't yet fully staffed up or declared a focus, the Times reports. The full board, which made the final decision to invest, is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, commonly referred to in politics and media as MBS.
In its justification to the investment panel for investing in Affinity, the PIF board cited the firm's "deep understanding of different government policies and geopolitical systems," the Times reports. A prominent part of Kushner's duties in the White House involved shaping its strategy in the Middle East, part of which involved the former CEO of development firm Kushner Cos. building a "friendship and informal alliance" with bin Salman, the Times reports.
PIF also invested $1B into Liberty Strategic Partners, the private equity fund led by Steven Mnuchin, who had years of experience in capital markets prior to serving as treasury secretary under Trump, the Times reports. Liberty's fund focuses on cybersecurity, financial technology and entertainment, and agreed to receive only a 1% asset management fee, half the standard 2% fee and less than Affinity's 1.25%. The board and the investment panel did not disagree on the investment into Liberty in the same way it had for Affinity.
The size and terms of PIF's investment into Affinity, which include a promise of at least a 28% ownership share in the fund's acquisitions, raised concerns among ethics watchdogs that the capital could be a way for bin Salman to either reward Kushner for actions taken in the White House or incentive for future actions should he re-enter the political sphere, whether as part of another Trump presidential run or not, the Times reports.
Kushner played a role in helping shield bin Salman from consequences after the U.S. intelligence community found he had authorized the extrajudicial killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident at the time, and also brokered a total of $110B in sales of U.S. armaments to Saudi Arabia while Trump was in office.