US president-elect Donald Trump is shutting down his charitable foundation and mulling options to address potential conflicts of interest between his family-run businesses and presidency that include, according to a news report, ending some projects in India and other countries.
No specifics were available of the Trump Organization’s plans for its India operations, which are its largest outside the US. The New York Times, which reported the move in the context of a larger effort to address conflict of interest issues, merely said the Trump Organization was “forgoing … early-stage ventures in places such as India”.
Trump has five ongoing deals in India with a gross development value of about $1.5 billion, Kalpesh Mehta, founder and managing partner of Tribeca, a Mumbai-based developer and the exclusive India representative for the Trump Organization, has said before.
Mehta told Hindustan Times days after Trump’s victory on November 8, “One project is finished and sales for two have begun. Three more projects are likely to be launched in 2017. Demand for the Trump brand in India remains strong.”
Trump announced on Saturday he was closing the Donald J Trump Foundation saying as he wanted to avoid “even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways”.
The charity, which has been under investigation for raising money in violation of New York state laws, was just one of the many potential areas of conflict facing Trump as he prepares to assume office in just a few weeks on January 20.
His businesses in the US and around the world have come under close scrutiny in recent days as he has swung between defiance — saying as president he faces no conflicts of interest — to declaring he will hand over the reins to his children.
But the enormity of the task is just beginning to dawn on the Trumps, as the children have had to cancel or withdraw themselves from charities and fund-raisers that promised donors access to the incoming first family, including the president-elect.
Faced with these and other challenges, the Trumps are mulling many options including, according to NYT, bringing in an outside monitor to oversee the sprawling Tump Organization and terminate some international projects.
The Trump Organization has already started ending pending or finished housing or hotel projects in Brazil, Argentina and Azerbaijan besides forgoing ventures in places like India, if the NYT report is true.
Trump’s India businesses, franchises mostly, are his largest foreign operations, according to information culled from his financial disclosures, with 16 entities in Pune and Mumbai in Maharashtra and Gurgaon in Haryana.
Mehta had said India “probably” has the highest number of Trump’s real estate projects outside North America.
India was followed by UAE (13), Canada (12), China (9), Indonesia (8), Panama (8), Saudi Arabia (8), Scotland (7), Azerbaijan (5), Brazil (4), Ireland (4), Israel (4), Qatar (4), French West Indies (2) South Africa (2), Turkey (2), Uruguay (2), Bermuda (1).