Jared Kushner Attending Saudi Conference Raises 'Red Flag' With Saudi Arabia in His Financial Disclosure: Ethics Experts

President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner's participating in Saudi Arabia's annual investment conference this week raised ethics concerns from a watchdog alleging that the Saudi government is a part-owner of a company building a Trump-branded property that Kushner's wife Ivanka Trump holds a stake in.

Kushner, a senior White House adviser, arrived at the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh on Tuesday, a year after Western leaders, including some from the United States boycotted the conference due to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In a report on its website Tuesday, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) pointed to its finding from last year that the Trump Organization's business partner in Indonesia signed a deal with a Saudi government-owned construction firm to build a Trump-branded resort. The agreement was apparently reached three weeks before Khashoggi disappeared.

The development appears in Kushner's financial disclosure because Ivanka Trump, also a senior White House adviser, listed it in her assets, according to CREW.

"The question becomes, how does that influence his dealings with the Saudi government, would he do something that could endanger the family finances?" CREW spokesman Jordan Libowitz told Newsweek on Wednesday.

"This raises serious national security concerns, when there were already concerns around Kushner security clearance," Libowitz continued, "And his dealings with Saudi officials in which there aren't records of the meetings or talks."

Jared Kushner Saudi Financial Disclosure
Jared Kushner is seen at the Royal Court after President Donald Trump received the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump Organization and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Newsweek on Wednesday.

In Kushner's public financial disclosure report for calendar year 2018, filed to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Saudi Arabia appears in a section on gifts and travel reimbursements. The endnote states first that the entity holds as intellectual property and initial-related trademarks registered in more than two dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia. It also states that copyrights to Ivanka Trump's jewelry brand are registered in the U.S.

In addition, Kushner's disclosure in the section on spouse's employment assets and income and retirement accounts includes "DT Lido Golf Manager LLC (Management of future golf course; New York, NY)," "Lido Hotel Manager LLC (Management of Future Hotel; New York, NY)," and "DT Lido Technical Services Manager LLC (Technical services for hotel construction; New York, NY)." The document does not include information on the value, income type or amount.

"Lido is the Indonesian development the Saudi-backed construction firm is working on," Libowitz said.

Richard Painter, a chief ethics lawyer under former President George W. Bush, told Newsweek that Saudi Arabia appearing in Kushner's disclosure raises several red flags, the first being the emoluments clause if it appears that Trump is making money. The second is possibly violating the financial conflict of interest statute that does not apply to the president but does to Kushner and his wife. The third is high-ranking government officials, including Kushner doing business with an authoritarian regime.

The former White House ethics chief said he had a bigger concern than Kushner's disclosure.

"Financial disclosures tell you what the business venture is, but what is he doing for the U.S. government when he's over there?" Painter said on Wednesday.

At the conference nicknamed "Davos in the desert," Kushner praised Trump's work and even spoke positively about his reelection. "What we're finding is that the enthusiasm for the president right now at home is stronger than it's ever been."

Jared Kushner Attending Saudi Conference Raises 'Red Flag' With Saudi Arabia in His Financial Disclosure: Ethics Experts | Politics