Two big names from the Trump administration have struck lucrative deals with Saudi Arabia for their investment funds. The New York Times reports that Jared Kushner received $2 billion from the nation's Public Investment Fund for his firm Affinity Equity and that former Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin got $1 billion for his Liberty Strategic Capital. The Trump White House, and Kushner in particular, had strong ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the Times story raises questions about conflicts of interest:
- "Ethics experts say that such a deal creates the appearance of potential payback for Mr. Kushner’s actions in the White House—or of a bid for future favor if Mr. Trump seeks and wins another presidential term in 2024."
The Kushner deal is notable because the Saudi fund's own screening panel raised all kinds of red flags. Among them were "the inexperience of the Affinity Fund management" and the potential "public relations risks" given Kushner's previous role as adviser to Donald Trump when Trump was president. As Axios notes, "these are massive investments to bestow upon first-time private equity funds." (Read more Jared Kushner stories.)