August 9, 2019
Before taking office, President Trump promised that the Trump Organization would pursue “no new foreign deals” while president. His eponymous company has continued, however, to develop international projects that were already underway before he took office, including taking them into new phases of development. For example, according to Indonesian press reports, next week Donald Trump Jr. will attend a pre launch event in Jakarta on August 13th for two of those ongoing projects in Bali and Lido, Indonesia.
The Indonesian firm MNC Group has been working with the Trump Organization on these two projects since 2015, and is chaired by Trump’s “great friend” Hary Tanoesoedibjo (who is also known as “Hary Tanoe”). Both developments were announced after Trump launched his campaign for president. MNC’s developments have been a profitable foreign partnership for the Trump Organization; between 2015 and 2017, Tanoe paid the Trump Organization as much as $10.5 million in fees. He also attended Trump’s inauguration “as a partner of the Trump Organization” just days after business meetings with Trump’s sons.
Trump’s refusal to divest from his businesses made it clear that avoiding conflicts of interest was not a high priority in his administration, but this partnership has proved especially troubling. Last May, the group announced that the Metallurgical Corporation of China, a state-owned construction company, would be building a theme park that’s part of the Lido development that also includes Trump-branded elements. MNC Group also signed an agreement last September with a construction company called POSCO E&C, which is owned partially by both the Saudi Arabian and South Korean governments, to work on the Lido development.
Hary Tanoe’s daughter Angela Tanoesoedibjo is also reportedly under consideration to assume a position in Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s cabinet, which would connect the Trump Organization to yet another foreign government.
MNC Group said in a presentation dated February 2019 that an “aggressive global expansion” of the Trump portfolio is “underway” and that there are “numerous projects in the pipeline,” which seems to contradict the promise that new foreign deals would not be made.
The fact that President Trump did not divest from the Trump Organization, and that his sons now run the family business has always left his administration open to questions of impropriety and corruption. Though Trump promised that there would be no new foreign deals while he was in office, that promise has fallen short of preventing new conflicts of interest.
(Photo of Donald Trump Jr. by Gage Skidmore)