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Trump's Canceled Overseas Projects Brought in a Mere $323,150

Image: Trump's Canceled Overseas Projects Brought in a Mere $323,150

(AP/Evan Vucci)

Monday, 09 Jan 2017 08:22 AM

Since Donald Trump’s election, his organization has steadily announced withdrawals from contracts in countries where the deals could conflict with his presidency. The truth is, though, that all were troubled projects and combined to generate a mere $323,150 in revenue for 2015 and the first part of 2016. For a $3-billion company, that’s not much.

The canceled arrangements were to affix the Trump name to buildings in Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil and Georgia, and the revenue figure is drawn from Trump’s personal financial disclosure filed to the Federal Election Commission last May.

The contracts were attracting unwelcome attention both for their delays and their potential conflicts as his transition team has sought to separate the president-elect from his business without selling its assets. 

A planned Trump hotel in Rio de Janeiro was the subject of a criminal probe and a separate office complex in the city never broke ground. His partner in Azerbaijan, where a Trump Tower was built but never opened, had family ties to the government. A Buenos Aires tower didn’t have the required permits, and a condominium building in Batumi, Georgia had been stalled since 2012 amid a change in the country’s leadership.

‘Barely Lip Service’

“There are such deep-seated conflicts of interest built into this that it takes your breath away,” said Norman Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy group in Washington. “This is barely lip service to the notion that you’re doing something about it.” 

The president-elect has refused to release his tax returns, making it impossible to fully assess the conflicts he faces or the profitability of his operations. Trump has said he plans to put his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, in charge of the Trump Organization and vowed to do no deals while he’s president. He’s expected to outline a plan for leaving his business at a news conference on Wednesday.

The exact structure of the licensing deals isn’t public, and the canceled arrangements might have generated more revenue in the future, as payment for the deals was “back-loaded towards project completion,” according to Trump’s disclosure. In 2014 and the first half of 2015, they brought in as much as $2.59 million, the bulk of it from Azerbaijan, according to his financial disclosure statement from July 2015. 

The licensing deals, which provide revenue streams without any investment risk, ownership or development by the Trump Organization, proliferated after 2008, when sales at two recently built Trump towers in Las Vegas and Chicago were hobbled by the financial crisis. While licensing has expanded Trump’s global footprint, his biggest businesses are managing golf courses and collecting office and retail rents in New York, a July assessment by Bloomberg shows.

Eight Countries

The president-elect remains legally and financially tied to business partners around the world in countries that could pose conflicts, including Canada, the Philippines, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, India, Uruguay, Panama and Indonesia. Partnerships in those eight countries, including two Dubai golf clubs and two Indonesian resorts advertised as having “six-star” service, paid him as much as $45 million in the period ending in May of 2016, his filing shows.

The Trump Organization’s ability to cut ties may be hindered by financial commitments to other businesses. Trump owns two money-losing golf courses in Scotland and another course in Ireland. Trump only lists revenue for these properties in his filing, even though the disclosure asks filers to list income. He has an outstanding loan of 39 million pounds (48 million dollars) to his golf course north of Aberdeen and has lent 63 million pounds to his Turnberry Golf resort. It’s unclear how he has financed those loans.

Most ethicists say the only way for Trump to eliminate his conflicts is to remove his name from properties overseas and sell his company, placing the proceeds in a blind trust. So far, Trump’s moves amount to a trimming of operations rather than a radical overhaul. Trump shut down four companies registered in Delaware related to Saudi Arabia, where he hadn’t started operating.

 

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Since Donald Trump's election, his organization has steadily announced withdrawals from contracts in countries where the deals could conflict with his presidency. The truth is, though, that all were troubled projects and combined to generate a mere $323,150 in revenue for...
donald trump, canceled, projects, buildings
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2017-22-09
Monday, 09 Jan 2017 08:22 AM
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