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Kushners use controversial EB-5 visa program to finance their developments

Kushner's interests
Kushner used controversial visa program to finance developments 02:31

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Looming above the Hudson River across from Midtown Manhattan, a 52-story apartment building in New Jersey, developed in part by Jared Kushner, markets one-bedroom rentals for $3,500 a month.

Donald Trump licensed his name for the Trump Bay Street project, and his son-in-law Kushner spoke at the groundbreaking in 2014.

Trump Bay Street apartments CBS News

Now, Donald Trump is president and Kushner a top White House aide, which means he has to disclose his assets, including his financial interest in Trump Bay Street.

But what does that interest amount to, and who are his partners?

What is the EB-5 visa program? An explanation 01:41

A presentation, put out by a firm that helps generate foreign investment through a government immigrant visa program called EB-5, shows Kushner raised $50 million through the program, which lets foreigners exchange cash for green cards.

"The company aims to reward international investors and their families with green cards in return for investing in financially safe and secure development projects through the United States," the video said, which was produced by the U.S. Immigration Fund.

Almost all EB-5 investors are Chinese nationals, but the government keeps their names confidential.

Seto Bagdoyan, who monitors the program at the Government Accountability Office, says problems with some foreign EB-5 investors have led to criminal investigations.

Seto Bagdoyan CBS News

"You just want to buy a green card … and you otherwise may not be qualified. You have a criminal background, you're linked to foreign intelligence services, you may be laundering dirty money," he said.

There are no allegations against Kushner's project, but the confidentiality provisions mean the public can't know whose foreign money went into Trump Bay Street.

But Washington University law professor Kathleen Clark says the questions about Kushner's investors are not limited to just that one building.

Kathleen Clark CBS News

"What you actually would need to know in terms of a concern about impartiality and to whom he may owe some kind of loyalty or gratitude, is not just the name of the organization, but also the identity of companies and individuals who have also invested in that organization and made the real estate project possible," Clark said.

The Kushner Company declined to comment for this story.

After numerous inquiries, the White House finally confirmed to CBS News that Kushner still owns a stake in the building, worth between $1 million and $5 million, through a trust.

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