In a press conference on Wednesday, Donald Trump appeared to suggest that Emirati billionaire Hussain Sajwani had offered him a $2 billion business deal over the weekend. (Photo credit: Siddharth Siva/REDUX For Forbes)
In an attempt to dispel fears over his potential conflicts of interest, Donald Trump may have done the opposite.
On Wednesday morning Trump held a press conference, his first since July, in part to challenge rising concerns over his business dealings and ties to foreign powers. In his remarks, Trump rebuffed reports of , and later stated that he would not fully divest himself from his companies, which will instead be run by his sons and his longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg.
During the briefing, Trump also mentioned that he had been approached last weekend by a foreign billionaire with a $2 billion real estate opportunity:
“I have to say one other thing. Over the weekend, I was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai with a very, very, very amazing man, a great, great developer from the Middle East—Hussain, DAMAC, a friend of mine, great guy.
And was offered $2 billion to do a deal in Dubai—a number of deals. And I turned it down. I didn’t have to turn it down, because as you know I have a no conflict situation because I’m president, which is—I didn’t know about that until about three months ago. But it’s a nice thing to have.”
No matter that he got the name wrong, the comments appear to be referencing Hussain Sajwani, an Emirati billionaire who founded and chairs DAMAC Group, a multinational real estate developer based in the United Arab Emirates.
Representatives for Trump and Sajwani did not immediately respond to requests for comment prior to this article’s publication, and Trump’s claims could not be independently verified.
Sajwani, whose net worth FORBES estimates at $3.4 billion, recently made headlines for his attendance at Trump’s New Year’s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. In from the event obtained by CNN, Trump can be heard praising the Emirati businessman. "Hussain and the whole family, the most beautiful people, are here from Dubai tonight. And they’re seeing it and they’re loving it," he said.
In making the remarks at Wednesday’s press conference, Trump—who was intending to display his resistance to improper foreign influence—inadvertently displayed the immense potential conflicts of interest he will retain after his inauguration on January 20. Though he has turned over management of his companies and has pledged to relinquish any involvement in their dealings, he will continue to personally profit off of successful business transactions, and will likely regain executive control at the end of his presidency.
Wednesday’s comments also display the significant access to the president-elect still held by his international business partners. Sajwani, for instance, a former catering business owner turned property mogul, on a luxury golf course at a new residential community in Dubai.
The size of the proposed deal, as claimed by Trump at $2 billion, is tremendously unlikely, and would have significantly expanded his personal portfolio. But whether Trump inflated the figures matters far less than whether he or his companies will accept similar offers going forward, particularly given the president-elect’s adamant insistence that he is exempt from conflict-of-interest regulations.
This article was sourced from http://newsfullform.com