President Trump’s nominee to serve as ambassador to Chile has numerous close business ties with the family of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.
Andrew Gellert is the president of his family’s food import company, which does business in Chile. His father George is one of Jared Kushner’s father Charles’s most trusted business partners, Bloomberg Politics reported Monday.
The Gellerts own a substantial share of 666 Fifth Avenue, the troubled Manhattan skyscraper bought in 2007 by the Kushner Companies, which since the financial crisis has been searching around the world for investors to help pay its $1.2 billion mortgage due in February 2019.
George Gellert was one of the most important early investors in Charles Kushner’s growing real estate business empire, Bloomberg explained. And after Kushner was jailed for witness tampering, illegal campaign contributions and tax evasion in 2005, Gellert often co-signed property loans with Charles’s wife Seryl.
“We’ve done many billions of dollars of business together, and everything is always on a handshake,” Charles Kushner said of George in 2016. “He’s never read a legal document I’ve given him, and it’s the same with me.”
The Gellerts provided funds for Jared Kushner to buy the New York Observer, and also invested in a venture capital firm founded by Jared Kushner’s brother Joshua.
It’s long been accepted practice in Washington to reward campaign donors and longtime friends with ambassador positions (though every ambassador to Chile sent by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were career diplomats).
Bloomberg reports that despite Gellert’s business ties in Chile, he only speaks “basic Spanish.” The White House’s official announcement of the nominee for ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a south Florida insurer and Mar-a-Lago Club member named Robin Bernstein, bragged that she also “speaks French and basic Spanish.”