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Trump Jr denies 'profiteering from presidency' as pressure grows on his India business trip

Rahul Bedi
Donald Trump Jr insisted no new deals would be done while his father is in office - REUTERS

Donald Trump Jr insisted he is not "profiteering from the presidency" as he tours India to drum up sales in luxury Trump Tower developments.

Halfway through his week-long tour to promote real estate deals worth several billion pounds, President Trump’s elder son said no new deals would be done while is father is in office.

He went so far as to suggest the Trump business had been damaged by his father ploughing his time into the White House.

“The company  (Trump Organisation) is not signing new deals with business partners outside the US as long as Trump (Sr) remains in office to avoid potential ethical conflicts,” Mr Trump Jr said in an interview published in The Times Of India on Wednesday.

As a consequence, Mr Trump Jr said, the company was turning down lucrative contracts worldwide worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  

Trump Tower Mumbai are one of four luxury apartment projects underway in India  Credit: Dhiraj Singh/ Bloomberg

Defending criticism of his highly publicised trip, he said that if his father remained in office as president for seven more years there was a possibility, he declared, that several potential deals in the pipeline would no longer "remain on the table" in 2025, further decreasing profits.

Speaking to CNBC-TV 18 news channel late on Tuesday night Mr Trump Jr brusquely dismissed accounts of him profiteering from his fathers position as "nonsense".  

Most people, he said, deliberately ignored the "opportunity cost" of the deals that Trump Organisation had been unable to conclude because his father was the US president.

In an effort at blunting widespread criticism that indeed there was a conflict of interest in peddling the family name for profit, Mr Trump Jr said he would focus on new real estate deals in India only after his father was "over the finishing line" as US President.

“We could do so many more (deals in India), but we are not doing those,” he said, adding that even though his father had put curbs on expanding Trump Organization’s financial interests, the US president had received no credit for doing so.  

Trump Tower in Kolkata. The 254 flats in Gurgaon, which is Trump’s flagship project, are priced between £610,00 and £1.2 million Credit: Bikas Das/AP

But Mr Trump Jr refused to discuss the revenue model for his India-based luxury apartment businesses and their overall worth. 

Since its entry into India’s real estate market in 2014, four Trump Towers luxury blocks with anticipated revenue of over £1.07 billion had been launched in Pune and Mumbai in the west, Kolkata in the east and in New Delhi’s suburb, Gurgaon.

Each of the 254 flats in Gurgaon, which is Trump’s flagship project, are priced between £610,00 and £1.2 million. 

For more than a week before Mr Trump Jr’s arrival in India on Monday major local newspapers carried glossy, front-page advertisements declaring: "Trump has arrived. Have You?"

The adverts also promised potential apartment owners in Gurgaon "conversation and dinner" with Mr Trump Jr a day later.  

Trump Jr took out front page adverts in many Indian daily papers

However, media scrutiny of Mr Trump Jr’s events is limited and only news organisations approved by his team have been provided access.

Shortly before assuming office President Trump had announced that he would hand over his business empire, which includes high-end hotels and homes across the world, to his two sons Donald Jr and Eric, and shift all his assets to a trust.

But many watchdog organisations accused the US president of not going far enough in divorcing himself from his business interests.  

Meanwhile, Mr Trump Jr will be speaking to Indian businessmen at the Global Business Summit in New Delhi on Friday on Indo-Pacific ties. Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, will also be present at this event.

Mr Trump Jr’s sister Ivanka Trump was one of the principal speakers at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit last November in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad.