The Kushner Companies apparently circumvented the law yet again, according to reports of another business scandal to befall them this year. This time around, the company formerly run by Jared Kushner prior to his stint at the White House as senior adviser to President Donald Trump, falsified documents to turn a profit of more than 50 percent on rent-regulated apartment buildings in the Queens borough’s Astoria neighborhood, New York City, Associated Press reported.
Although none of the documents bear Kushner’s signature, it provides an insight into the skewed ethics followed by the business empire run by his family, the report said.
Aaron Carr, founder of Housing Rights Initiative, a tenants’ rights watchdog that compiled the work permit application documents told The Associated Press that Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds. The deception reportedly enabled them to sell all three buildings for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than it paid.
Rent-regulated tenants are protected by rules that prevent developers from pushing them out, raising rents and turning a profit. However, Kushner Cos achieved this goal with remarkable shrewdness, by checking a box on construction permit applications in 2015, which indicated the buildings had zero rent-regulated tenants, when they had several. By doing this they were able to skirt around possibly unscheduled “sweeps” on site by inspectors to keep the company from harassing tenants and compelling them to leave.
“Its bare-faced greed,” Carr said while speaking to AP. “The fact that the company was falsifying all these applications with the government shows a sordid attempt to avert accountability and get a rapid return on its investment.”
This is the second time the Kushner clan has failed to divulge information in its entirety. Jared Kushner lost his security clearance to the White House amid reports that he failed to disclose more than 100 foreign contacts on his initial clearance application.
In the time the company bought the apartments and sold it for a tidy profit, they managed to drive away most of the tenants with underhanded tactics. Current and former tenants of the Queens buildings told the AP that they were subjected to systematic harassment including extensive construction, banging, drilling, and enveloping the building in dust, to get them to leave, and pave the way for higher-paying renters. After construction began the tenants were also plagued by rats.
The Kushner Cos. said in a statement that it was not aware of the false documents filed by the company, since it outsources such documents to third parties that are reviewed by independent counsel. The New York Times had earlier reported how the company had received an exorbitant sum of loan to aid its business ventures, when former CEO Kushner breached the ethics rule while at the White House and met with top heads of the lending firms Apollo Global Management and Citigroup last year.
Under the government ethics rule, before taking on his role at the White House, Jared Kushner stepped down as CEO of the Kushner Cos., and sold off part of his real estate holdings. But financial disclosures last year showed he still held stakes in a Kushner subsidiary that oversees residential properties, AP reported.