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Kushner Cos. Subpoenaed By Federal Investigators Regarding EB-5 Program Use

Federal investigators have subpoenaed the development firm of White House senior adviser Jared Kushner's family regarding the use of a controversial green card program to raise funding for its New Jersey mixed-use development.

Kushner Cos KABR Group
Rendering for the planned One Journal Square development in Jersey City by Kushner Cos. and KABR Group

New York-based Kushner Cos. received the subpoena in May requesting emails that discussed the firm's use of the EB-5 program associated with One Journal Square, a $1B twin tower mixed-use project in Jersey City that includes condominiums, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Kushner Cos. utilized the program, fully complied with its rules and regulations and did nothing improper,” Kushner Cos. general counsel Emily Wolf told the paper. “We are cooperating with legal requests for information.”

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

The paper stated it was unclear what potential violations of EB-5, which was partially used to finance the development of One Journal Square, were being probed. Officials with the U.S. Attorney's office declined to comment to the WSJ.

The federal EB-5 program allows potential immigrants to invest at least $500K in U.S. businesses, including those that help fund development projects and are credited with creating at least 10 jobs per investor to obtain visas for foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time. The government only grants 10,000 EB-5 visas per year.

The program has become a popular vehicle for developers in major cities and is overwhelmingly used by wealthy Chinese investors.

But the program also courts controversy, including allegations of fraud, national security concerns and transparency issues, according to an NBC News story. For instance, earlier this year, a Los Angeles firm was accused of obtaining green cards for Chinese citizens by investing in development projects that never come to fruition.

President-elect Donald Trump gives his first press conference since the election at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Jan. 11, 2017

This is not Kushner Cos. first EB-5 controversy. In May, news broke that Nicole Kushner Meyer — sister to Jared Kushner and an executive in the family firm — was courting Chinese nationals to invest in the project in a meeting in that country and alluded to Kushner's role in the White House. During the meeting, Meyer used phrases such as “founded by celebrity developers,” "government sponsored” and “key decision makers” and even at one point displayed a photo of Donald Trump with the characters “EB-5” beneath it, according to an article in The Real Deal.

Kushner Cos. officials apologized soon after for the action, saying they did not intend to use Kushner's name and role as an incentive for investors to buy into the project. For his part, Kushner divested much of his interest in his family's projects when he took on the role as senior adviser to his father-in-law's administration.