President elect Donald Trump has at least 111 companies in 18 countries across the globe and has 16 projects in India, The Washington Post has reported. Yet, even after being elected, Trump has refused calls to sell or give his business to an independent manager or “blind trust,” – a long-held presidential tradition designed to combat conflicts of interest – forcing policy and ethics experts to assess potential dangers of public rule by a leader with a vast web of private business deals.
The Post said it analyzed most recent financial disclosure reports filed by Trump’s campaign in May. The self-reported data was unverified by regulators, meaning the reports may not have shown all of Trump’s foreign deals or assets.
The disclosures offer a glimpse at how extensive Trump’s empire has become. But the filings, the most comprehensive public documents of Trump’s business empire, largely lack details for many of the companies’ status or ambitions. Trump has refused to allow a closer accounting of his investments or to release documents, such as his tax returns, that could provide more detail on his foreign accounts.
That, ethics advisers said, forces Trump into an unprecedented nexus: as both a potential channel for dealmakers seeking to curry favor with the White House and a potential target for attacks or security risks overseas.
“There are so many diplomatic, political, even national security risks in having the president own a whole bunch of properties all over the world,” Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, told the Post.
In India the Trump organization has close business interests. It has partnered with the Lodha Group for a Trump Tower in Mumbai. Another real estate project in Pune links him to Atul Chordia, partner of Panchshil Realty. The Chordia family is said to be close to Sharad Pawar, chief of the Nationalist Congress Party.
The Trump Organization has lined up another project, in Gurugram (earlier Gurgaon), which links real estate developer Ireo to Sudhanshu Mittal, a member of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party and a person with business interests.
The Trump organization has reportedly also signed a deal with Unimark Group to build a 400,000 sq. ft residential project with the signature Trump Tower on Kolkata’s EM Bypass. The company has plans to tap opportunities in office real estate in other large cities in India.
According to Washington Post, Trump has 16 projects in India, some completed and others in the pipeline.
In Turkey, Donald Trump’s company was paid up to $10 million by the Trump Tower’s developers since 2014 to affix the Trump name atop the luxury complex, whose owner, one of Turkey’s biggest oil and media conglomerates, has become an influential megaphone for the country’s increasingly repressive regime.
The president-elect’s Turkey deal marks a vulnerability that even Trump has deemed “a little conflict of interest,” a private moneymaker that could open him to foreign influence and tilt his decision-making as America’s executive in chief.
The business interests range from sprawling, ultra luxury real estate complexes to one-man holding companies and branding deals in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Panama and other countries, including some where the United States maintains sensitive diplomatic ties.
Some companies reflect long-established deals while others were launched as recently as Trump’s campaign, including eight that appear tied to a potential hotel project in Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich Arab kingdom that Trump has said he “would want to protect.”
Though Trump rose to prominence as a New York builder, most of the Trump Organization’s business growth in recent years has been through real estate, management and licensing deals with developers and investors overseas.
Many of those deals involve licensing the Trump name: a valuable quantity when Trump was a famous businessman, now made more lucrative when attached to a U.S. head of state.
Trevor Potter, a former Federal Election Commission chairman and general counsel for George H.W. Bush, told Washington Post that foreign investors could seek to seal deals with Trump’s children in hopes of cozying up or currying favor with America’s businessman in chief.