Organizers barred journalists on Sunday from a publicly advertised event in Shanghai that offered Chinese investors the chance to get US immigrant visas if they put money in a real estate project linked to the family of President Donald Trump's son-in-law.
The two-tower luxury apartment complex in New Jersey, One Journal Square, is being developed by KABR Group and the Kushner Companies, which until recently was headed by senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, the husband of Trump's daughter Ivanka.
The developers are seeking to raise $150 million, or 15.4 percent of funding for the project, from investors through the EB-5 visa program, according to marketing materials posted by the event's organizer, immigration agency Qiaowai.
The controversial EB-5 program allows wealthy foreigners to, in effect, buy US immigration visas for themselves and families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects.
"Sorry, this is a private event," said a man stopping journalists from entering a function room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Shanghai.
Guests at the event said Kushner's sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, spoke for about 10 minutes, including about her family's humble roots.
According to the New York Times
, Meyer attended a similar event in Beijing on Saturday and told the audience of about 100 people the project "means a lot to me and my entire family".
Jared Kushner, whose White House portfolio includes relations with China, sold his stake in Kushner Companies to a family trust early this year.
"Mr. Kushner has no involvement in the operation of Kushner Companies and divested his interests in the One Journal Square project by selling them to a family trust that he, his wife, and his children are not beneficiaries of, a mechanism suggested by the Office of Government Ethics," his lawyer, Blake Roberts of WilmerHale law firm, said in a statement emailed to Reuters by the White House.
"As previously stated, he will recuse from particular matters concerning the EB-5 visa program."
A Kushner Companies spokeswoman declined to comment in a New York Times
article about the Beijing event published on Saturday.
The Times story said Meyer did not respond when asked if she was concerned about possible conflicts of interest facing her brother. Journalists from the Times
and Washington Post
were removed from Saturday's Beijing event, the newspapers reported.
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