Of the $2.5 billion that the main fund of Jared Kushner’s firm managed as of late March, roughly 80 percent stems from one bulky investment from the Saudi crown prince, according to The New York Times.
Within half a year of having left the White House, the newspaper reported Sunday, Kushner had secured a $2 billion investment from Mohammed (Bone Saw) bin Salman, despite the fact that his firm, Affinity Partners, has to date no publicly declared focus. MBS also reportedly gave Kushner the money over the express objections of his own fund’s advisers, who rang alarm bells last June over issues like “inexperience,” “unsatisfactory” operations, and the “public relations risks” of associating with the former president’s son-in-law.
The prince, leading the board of his Public Investment Fund, overruled his screening panel, according to the Times. Around the same time, MBS underwrote a comparably puny investment of $1 billion in Steven Mnuchin’s new fund, despite the fact that the ex-Trump treasury secretary is a former Goldman Sachs partner. Mnuchin’s fund is also themed around Saudi-prioritized sectors like cybersecurity, financial technology, and entertainment, according to the Times—but all of that apparently pales in comparison to good old-fashioned shilling, with Kushner infamously becoming MBS’ biggest defender inside the White House after multiple intelligence agencies concluded the prince had ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Robert Weissman, president of nonprofit group Public Citizen, called Kushner’s relationship with the Saudis “extremely troubling,” arguing that his stance toward the kingdom’s leadership as a senior adviser “makes the business partnership appear even more to be both a reward to, and an investment in, Kushner.”
Kushner, whose fund has not publicly disclosed a theme or focus, has little experience or track record in private equity. Before working in the White House, he ran his family’s commercial real estate empire, sometimes with disappointing results. His best-known deal was the $1.8 billion purchase of the office tower at 666 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan in 2007; the building’s mortgage became a crippling liability when the recession hit the next year.
In Washington, Kushner had also helped broker $110 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over 10 years. He helped protect those and other weapons deals from congressional outrage over the murder of Khashoggi and the humanitarian catastrophe created by the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.