Trump strikes new overseas deal and raises old ethical issue

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s company is licensing his name to an Oman golf resort in the first of what the company hopes will be multiple overseas deals, raising conflicts of interest as the former president announced a third candidacy for the White House.

The Trump Organization said the licensing deal — its first since Trump left — is with Saudi developer Dar Al Arakan and will include a golf course, hotel and thousands of housing units in Oman’s capital, Muscat.

Trump’s son Eric, who oversees the company’s global real estate interests, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the company is no longer bound by a self-imposed restriction against making foreign deals while his father was president.

“You can expect more hotel and golf deals abroad in the future,” Eric Trump said in a text exchange.

Trump announced Tuesday that he is running for president again in a speech from his club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump’s company made many overseas real estate licensing deals before entering the White House, including for hotels and residential towers in Canada, Dubai, Mexico, India and Turkey. Some brand experts had expected him to put his name on more buildings after he left office, with the added appeal of a former US president.

With Trump potentially back in action, the company may feel pressure to act quickly to add to the Oman deal. When asked if the company would stop such deals if his father were elected, Eric Trump replied, “Why should we do anything else?”

The New York Times, which first reported on the deal with the Saudi developer, said the $1.6 billion Oman resort will have an estimated 400 hotel rooms and 3,500 residential units.

Trump’s close ties to Saudi Arabia’s reigning crown prince have drawn widespread criticism following the blockade of US ally Qatar during his administration and the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the regime.

Since leaving office, Trump has hosted two tournaments at his properties for the upstart Saudi Arabian-funded LIV Golf series that critics say should not get a US location given the regime’s track record in the field. field of human rights. Trump’s son-in-law and former senior aide, Jared Kushner, has also drawn criticism from Democrats for a reported $2 billion investment from a Saudi sovereign wealth fund for his investment fund that was started after he left the White House.

Unlike Trump’s build-and-own ventures earlier in his career, licensing offers a relatively easy and risk-free way to generate money, assuming his brand stays strong. Before his election in 2016, Trump’s real estate licensing deals generated a whopping $30 million in revenue in 17 months through May of that year, according to financial documents he was required to file as a candidate. Much of that revenue was profit, since it was Trump’s partners who owned the companies and covered the costs, not him.

Exactly how much profit is unclear, but Trump’s longtime chief of finance, Allen Weisselberg, told Businessweek in a 2015 interview that the company made a total of about 50 cents on every $1 in revenue, thanks in part to licensing. Since the Trump Organization is private, it’s almost impossible to confirm those numbers.

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