Wednesday, April 26, 2017
"It was the summer of 2012, and Jared Kushner was headed downtown.
His family’s real estate firm, the Kushner Companies, would spend about $190 million over the next few months on dozens of apartment buildings in tony Lower Manhattan neighborhoods including the East Village, the West Village and SoHo.
For much of the roughly $50 million in down payments, Mr. Kushner turned to an undisclosed overseas partner. Public records and shell companies shield the investor’s identity. But, it turns out, the money came from a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family, which built a fortune as one of the world’s leading diamond traders.
A Kushner Companies spokeswoman and several Steinmetz representatives say Raz Steinmetz, 53, was behind the deals. His uncle, and the family’s most prominent figure, is the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is under scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in four countries. In the United States, federal prosecutors are investigating whether representatives of his firm bribed government officials in Guinea to secure a multibillion dollar mining concession. In Israel, Mr. Steinmetz was detained in December and questioned in a bribery and money laundering investigation. In Switzerland and Guinea, prosecutors have conducted similar inquiries.
The Steinmetz partnership with Mr. Kushner underscores the mystery behind his family’s multibillion-dollar business and its potential for conflicts with his role as perhaps the second-most powerful man in the White House, behind only his father-in-law, President Trump.
Although Mr. Kushner resigned in January from his chief executive role at Kushner Companies, he remains the beneficiary of trusts that own the sprawling real estate business. The firm has taken part in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions over the last decade, many of them backed by foreign partners whose identities he will not reveal. Last month, his company announced that it had ended talks with the Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial firm linked to leading members of the ruling Communist Party. The potential agreement, first disclosed by The New York Times, had raised questions because of its favorable terms for the Kushners.
Beny SteinmetzPhoto by: Dafydd Jones
Dealings with the Steinmetz family could create complications for Mr. Kushner. The Justice Department, led by Trump appointees, oversees the investigation into Beny Steinmetz. Even as Mr. Kushner’s company maintains extensive business ties to Israel, as a top White House adviser, he has been charged with leading American efforts to broker peace in the Middle East as part of his broad global portfolio.
“Mr. Kushner continues to work with the Office of the White House Counsel and personal counsel to ensure he recuses from any particular matter involving specific parties in which he has a business relationship with a party to the matter,” said Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman.
‘A Terrific Partner’
Representatives for Mr. Kushner and the Steinmetzes put distance between Raz Steinmetz and his uncle, Beny. Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for the Kushner Companies, called Raz “a terrific partner,” and added: “He is the only Steinmetz that we have done business with.”
In a statement provided by his attorney, Raz Steinmetz said: “None of my investment entities has invested in any transactions with Beny Steinmetz or any of his interests.” Louis Solomon, an attorney at Greenberg Traurig LLP, who represents one of Beny Steinmetz’s companies, said any business relationships between Raz and Beny were two decades old, and said the two men had not had contact since 2013."
Bribe Cases, a Secret Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts - The New York Times
"After months of blunt force foreshadowing, the Federal Communications Commission announced today that it’s ready to pick a fight with the public over the future of the open internet. It’s great news if you’re a lawyer for Verizon or Comcast, and terrible news for the rest of us.
In its first wave of propaganda, the FCC says that its proposal to roll back internet regulation will “Restore Internet Freedom for all Americans” — a mendacious slogan on the level of the “Patriot Act,” or the “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan.” Like the first fight for net neutrality, this one is going to be about words and what they mean. For instance: “internet freedom.”
What does the FCC mean now when it talks about “internet freedom?” Here’s what Chairman Pai’s office said today in a press release."
The fight for net neutrality is officially back on - The Verge
"FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced today that he’s proposing to do away with the regulatory classification his predecessor used to enact tough net neutrality rules.
Instead of classifying internet providers as “common carriers” under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, they’ll instead be classified as “information services” under Title I. That’ll subject them to much more lenient oversight — and naturally, internet providers are happy to hear it.
Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Charter, and Sprint all spoke out in support of the change after Pai announced it.
INTERNET PROVIDERS SAY THEY SUPPORT NET NEUTRALITY — THEY JUST HATE TITLE II
In their statements, the companies all try to strike a balance between celebrating the rules rollback and declaring support for an open internet. But the system internet providers want seems to rely on trusting them to adhere by net neutrality guidance, rather than putting in enforceable lines that they’re legally bound not to cross."
Internet providers are thrilled with the FCC’s plan for weaker regulations - The Verge