Sunday 19 November 2017

Trump facing row over business interests after Argentine project claims

Donald Trump has denied the latest claims Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Donald Trump has denied the latest claims Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Nick Allen

Donald Trump was last night facing a growing row over his business interests after claims he had asked the Argentine president for help with a project.

The Trump team denied as "not true" a report that he and President Mauricio Macri had discussed construction of an office tower in Buenos Aires.

But it was the latest example of questions being raised about conflicts of interest over Mr Trump's global business interests.

There are plans for a Trump-branded $100m (€94m) skyscraper in the Argentine capital with an intention to start construction next year.

Jorge Lanata, one of Argentina's leading journalists, claimed: "Macri called him. This still hasn't emerged but Trump asked for them to authorise a building he's constructing in Buenos Aires. It wasn't just a geopolitical chat."

A spokesman for Mr Macri said: "They didn't talk about the tower at all. It's absolutely untrue."

Last week the US president-elect and family members met in his office at Trump Tower in New York with three Indian business partners who are constructing a Trump-branded apartment complex near Mumbai. That was described as a courtesy visit from the businessmen. It also emerged yesterday that Mr Trump registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia during the US presidential campaign. The companies were thought to be connected to a potential property deal in Jeddah, and four of them were still active when he filed his latest financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission in May.

"Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them, they buy apartments from me. They spend $40m (€37m), $50m (€47m). Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much," Mr Trump said during the campaign.

In another foreign link, a company owned by Mr Trump was paid millions of dollars by the owners of Trump Towers Istanbul, who have links to the Turkish government. More than 100 Trump companies have business dealings in 18 countries across several continents. The extent of his dealings has also raised the prospect that Trump-linked projects overseas may become terrorist targets.

The billionaire has so far declined to give up his interests, or put them in a blind trust, as previous presidents, including both Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did. In a letter to Mr Trump a group, including former White House ethics lawyers, criticised his links with the Trump Organisation.

There was better news for Mr Trump as a new poll found his popularity has risen dramatically since he won the election.

People with a 'favourable' view of the president-elect rose to 46pc, up nine points, according to a 'Politico/Morning Consult' poll.

Those with an 'unfavourable' view had fallen 15 points, from 61pc to 46pc.

And, in what appeared to be an attempt to ease his feud with the US media, Mr Trump met executives and high-profile presenters from major TV networks at Trump Tower.

Irish Independent

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