20 December 2016

Tracking Trump’s National-Security Conflicts of Interest


A global business empire raises the question: will the next president’s foreign policy serve America’s interests or his own? 

From close neighbors in Latin America to European allies in the fight against the Islamic State, Donald Trump has international entanglements like no previous commander in chief. Each of the president-elect’s business endeavors, critics say, offers an opportunity for foreign leaders and other actors to unduly influence U.S. policy through emoluments — or potentially, even extortion.

Keeping track of Trump’s national-security conflicts-of-interest will be no simple matter, observers say, unless and until he creates a truly blind trust for his assets. Though some potentially profit-inflected decisions have already attracted critical scrutiny, others have surfaced only in the international press, and still others may remain hidden by the Trump Organization’s opaque operating style.

What follows is as complete an accounting of Trump’s overseas financial interests as could be gleaned from open-source reporting, including the financial disclosure form he filed as a presidential candidate. Released by the Federal Election Commission, the form is light on details but provides broad estimates of Trump’s assets, income, and debt for the year ending May 2016.

Some of Trump’s business interests listed here have positive cash flow, while others are still in development or remain merely prospective. More on our methodology here

Europe, the Middle East, Africa

The U.S. has long maintained an intricate web of bilateral and regional Middle East security partnerships in the interest of regional stability. Its most visible military engagement, the coalition fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, is a complicated, multilateral effort that could grow even more complex with Trump’s financial interests. 

Most notably, America’s NATO ally Turkey plays host to a pair of Trump Towers and contributes troops to the coalition fight in Syria. Turkey lets the U.S. and others fly combat strike and surveillance missions against ISIS from its Incirlik Air Base. But Turkey also has long-simmering issues with some separatist Kurdish groups the U.S. has welcomed into the fight for furnishing some of the coalition’s most effective ground forces.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has cracked down on Kurdish and opposition groups, including journalists, angering European and American officials and publics, but his military commanders, Pentagon officials privately say, at least remain committed to the fight against ISIS, and Turkey’s cooperation is needed. 

Trump’s rise has also rocked relations with European leaders, who are questioning America’s commitment to defend its NATO allies and nervous over Trump publicly yearning for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friendship

Here are Trump’s business interests in the Middle East and Europe:


The Trump Towers Istanbul project is reportedly already being used as a bargaining chip to sway the president-elect’s policy interactions with Turkey. It is not the first time his business and policy have collided there: When Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S., Erdogan called for Trump’s name to be removed from the towers, threatening the licensing fees that netted Trump $1 million to $5 million in the previous year. Trump has recognized the conflict of interest. 

Saudi Arabia 

Trump’s interest in Saudi Arabia is still largely that – an interest. Ivanka Trump identified it as one of three Middle Eastern countries in which the Trump Organization planned to open hotels. Trump touted his transactions with Saudis on the campaign trail and registered eight companies tied to the country after he started his presidential campaign, all seemingly linked to a potential hotel in Jeddah. But there has yet to be any other progress, and he has reportedly dissolved half of those corporations. 


Trump International Golf Club Dubai is an 18-hole golf course near completion. Its opening was originally scheduled for 2016 but is now expected in the first quarter of next year. Trump’s proposed Muslim ban appears to have been forgiven, and his partner just announced a new series of villas overlooking the course. 

Trump World Golf Club, a second golf course and club built in another luxury development with the same partner. Expect it to open in 2018

Two accompanying streams of royalties, each worth $1 million to $5 million in the year ending May 2016, and 12 associated organizations identified in the filing. 


Trump’s interest in Qatar is still largely speculative as well. Though it was one of the three Middle Eastern countries in which the Trump Organization said it planned to open hotels, and the disclosure reveals four associated companies, there hasn’t been any apparent progress. 

State-owned Qatar Airways has been a tenant in Trump Tower Manhattan for years. 


The Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Doonbergcombo, which opened in 2002 and has four associated entities registered in the Irish town. Trump earned more than $10 million in golf-related revenue from Doonberg in the year ending May 2016, though he more recently made headlines there over a now-defeated plan to build a seawall to protect the resort from rising sea levels


Trump International Golf Links Scotland and theMacLeod House and Lodge in Aberdeen is the golf course whose view and value Trump said would be harmed by offshore wind farms – a fight settled by the United Kingdom’s courts that he rekindled in a meeting with British politician Nigel Farage. 

Another golf-and-resort combo, Trump Turnberry, on Scotland’s west coast. The original hotel and prestigious golf course date to the early 1900s; Trump bought the property in 2014 and spent two years renovating it. Was it worth it? That’s still to be determined: Although the May financial disclosure reports more than $18 million in golf-related revenue from Turnberry, local business filings showed an overall operating loss of about $10 million in 2015. And Reuters questions whether his golf investments are underwater. 

DT Connect Europe, located in Scotland and owned by another of Trump’s 11 Scottish businesses, owns a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, which he valued between $1 million and $5 million in the disclosure. 


A suddenly revived plan for a Trump Tower in the resort-and-casino town of Batumi, announced in 2012, quickly fell dormant when the country’s political situation changed. But Trump still has two companies associated with Batumi and at the start of this month, the project’s planned builder said it could move forward as soon as January. 


A Trump Tower in Baku is languishing unfinished. Originally announced in 2014, the planned development stalled and was removed from Trump’s hotel portfolio website after the Azerbaijani economy crashed. Trump nevertheless earned more than $320,000 in management fees for the property in the year leading up to financial disclosure filing. 


Germany’s Deutsche Bank holds large amounts of Trump’s debt. The Justice Department is currently negotiating with the bank a settlement over alleged predatory lending
TAG Aviation, an aircraft chartering, management, and maintenance company owned by the Trump conglomeration, operates out of airports in Bahrain, France, Switzerland, the U.K., Spain, Portugal, and Togo. 


In the face of a rising China, the U.S. is involved in what Defense Secretary Ash Carter called “a long campaign of firmness” to keep the Asia-Pacific region secure and stable.

The U.S. has multiple allies in the region — via bilateral treaties with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines, plus a multilateral pact with those countries and several others — and stations military personnel in several places. But sustaining the Asia-Pacific’s 60 years of relative stability and American leadership there requires effort as China’s global ambitions grow.

The latest flashpoint is the South China Sea, where the U.S.’s efforts to push back against aggressive Chinese encroachment are complicated by, among other things, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who has been increasingly hostile toward the U.S. and deferential toward China.

The Trump Organization has interests in the Philippines and several other countries:


Trump Tower Manila is an unabashedly luxurious project set to open next year. Trump’s partner on the project, Jose E. B. Antonio, was named as a special envoy to the U.S. before the election. Trump received up to $5 million in royalties from the project in the year ending May 2016, funneled through one of his two Trump Marks Philippines corporations. 


Much of Trump’s interests in China are speculative. Trump Organization officials have previously said they have a team in Shanghai and are looking to establish hotels and in Shenzhen and Beijing. Trump’s disclosure notes nine companies associated with the country, but so far he hasn’t cracked the Chinese market
TAG Aviation, Trump’s aircraft-services company has a Hong Kong-based subsidiary that serves the Asian market. 


Trump Towers Pune is a pair of towers several hours from Mumbai. A pair of state and local investigations into the building have yet to slow down rentals nor lower the price of apartments that sell for 35 percent above their nearby peers. 

Trump Tower Mumbai, Trump’s second attempt to get into the Mumbai market, generated $1 million to $5 million in license fees, according to the disclosure. 

In the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, a fledgling deal with Indian developer Ireo to build a Trump tower had already netted between $100,000 and $1 million in royalties in the year ending May 2016. 

And in Kolkata, another prospective Trump tower in partnership with Unimark Group is reportedly in the design-review phase

16 other related corporations and associations. 

South Korea 

Trump World Seoul, the first development to which Trump licensed his brand. 
Two associated companies, including a joint-venture with the partner who built the condo properties. 


A planned Trump International Hotel and Tower Bali, announced last year and slated for completion in 2018 is a 100-hectare resort that would be Trump’s first hotel in Asia. 

A second deal is with the same partner from the Bali project to build Trump International Hotel and Tower Lido in West Java, about 100 kilometers south of Jakarta. It would include the resort as well as residences and a golf course. 

Each deal netted Trump between $1 and $5 million in royalties, plus $83,333 in management fees in the year ending May 2016. Between the two projects, Trump has 16 companies associated with Indonesia. 

The Americas

Though the region is not without its security issues, Latin America and the Caribbean have historically sat squarely within the U.S.’s sphere of influence. The U.S. maintains a multilateral military treaty with large swaths of Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada is a member of NATO.

But in recent years, China and Russia have started testing the waters, and may see Trump’s election as an opportunity to move in further.

Trump’s financial interests that could complicate or undermine his dealings with the region include:


An under-construction Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver and four associated organizations The failing Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto and eight associated corporations, partnerships and bank accounts. The Trump Organization does not own the property, but manages the hotel and licensed the Trump name to the now-defunct developer
Trump Education ULC and an account with the Royal Bank of Canada. 


Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower Panama and eight associated corporations. One of those, Trump Marks Panama LLC, generated between $1 million and $5 million for Trump from license fees in the year ending May 2016. 


The Trump Rio de Janeiro Hotel, which opened uncompleted to host guests for the Summer Olympics in 2016. 
A planned $2.1-billion development of Trump Towers Rio, which was announced in 2012 but has yet to break ground. A recently filed criminal investigation into the corporate office project likely foreshadows yet more delays. 
Eight associated corporations and organizations linked to Rio or Brazil more broadly. 


The long-stalled Trump Tower Buenos Aires, which showed signs of life after a phone call between Trump and Argentine president Mauricio Macri. Though both parties refuted a report saying the two discussed the property, and the building’s permitting process isn’t finished, Trump’s partner on the project announced three days after the phone call that construction would start in 2017. 


Trump Tower Punta del Este, which delivered between $100,000 and $1 million in royalties in the year ending May 2016, via one of the two associated corporations Trump maintains in the country. 

Caribbean Islands 

An investment in land in the Dominican Republic valued between $1 million and $5 million, according to the disclosure. 
Residential rental property on St. Martin, which generated between $100,000 and $1 million in rent payments over the preceding year. 
Land and real estate investments on the tiny Grenadine island of Canouan, where Trump launched a development of a golf course and accompanying villas in 2004. Though the casino he also managed there has since gone bankrupt, the golf course has been rebranded and the villas didn’t work out, he still had four active corporations linked to the island at the time of the filing. One of them netted $3 million in land sales – possibly the last of his involvement with the island
DJ Aerospace Bermuda Ltd, a perhaps-inactive corporation that is wholly owned by the president-elect. At least until 2011, Trump had registered a Boeing 727 on the island. He has since sold that plane. 


Foreign business interests were identified using the May financial disclosure, public statements from Trump or his children, and other open-source data. The disclosure was not reviewed by regulators; more Trump-related companies and investments may exist.

Each interest is listed in the region where it does or expects to do its primary business, not where it may be registered or headquartered. As an example, DT Marks Worli LLC was incorporated in Delaware in 2013 and is located in New York, according to the filing, but is licensing the Trump name to a developer building a Trump Tower in the Worli neighborhood in Mumbai. As such, it’s included here as an interest in India.

Finally, the financial disclosure lists more than 500 corporations and associations in which Trump held positions, most often as a director or president of the group. A number of these hint at the Trump Organization’s ambitions to expand its international brand, but weren’t linked to any assets or income. If no ongoing operations or public statements from Trump or his organization could be found for these companies, they were not included here. An LLC and a corporation, both sporting the name Trump Marks South Africa, are two such examples.

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