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Donald Trump Jr., in Indonesia, Defends Family’s Global Business

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Donald Trump Jr., visiting Indonesia’s capital on Tuesday to promote two Trump-branded resorts, defended his father, President Trump, and their family’s company against allegations that their global business presented conflicts of interest for the president.

The president’s son, an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said that the company had walked away from deals that could have made tens of millions of dollars so as not to create the appearance of any improprieties.

“We made a very conscious decision of the family not to do that right now,” he told reporters. “We have turned down a lot of deals.”

He also defended his father against any suggestions that the family’s international business interests could affect his foreign policy.

“He wouldn’t make decisions on a country based on a real estate deal,” Mr. Trump said. “I would like to shut down that nonsense right here.”

Mr. Trump was in Jakarta for a private event with wealthy prospective buyers to promote the sale of residential units at two planned luxury resorts in Indonesia that have yet to be built.

He and his billionaire business partner, Hary Tanoesoedibjo, chairman of the MNC Group, held a news conference to extol the virtues of the two Trump-branded resorts, one in Bali and the other at Lido, south of Jakarta. The resorts will include hotels, golf courses and residential units.

After Mr. Trump was elected president in 2016, he said in a Twitter post that he would embark on “no new deals.” But the Trump Organization said it was keeping the Indonesia projects because Mr. Trump had signed binding contracts with Mr. Hary in 2015.

Mr. Trump initially reported receiving between $2 million and $10 million for the projects. The agreement does not call for the Trump Organization to put up any money.

The two projects have been slow to progress.

Mr. Trump Jr. and Mr. Hary were vague on specifics Tuesday, and reporters were not shown a promotional video for the projects that was shown to guests at the event.

But Mr. Hary said he expected both projects to be completed in three years and valued them together at $1.7 billion.

ImageCreditWilly Kurniawan/Reuters

The Trump International Resort, Golf Club and Residences Bali is planned for the site of the former Nirwana Pan-Pacific Hotel overlooking an iconic temple, Tanah Lot, a popular tourist destination. Building near the sacred site is controversial, but Mr. Hary has promised to abide by Bali’s strict setback and height regulations.

The Nirwana was demolished last year to make way for the new project. A reporter who visited the site in April saw no sign that construction had begun.

Trump International Resort, Golf Club and Residences Lido, to be built about 45 miles south of Jakarta, is to be part of a larger project known as Lido City, which is to include a theme park, hospital, restaurants and other facilities. The 7,400-acre project is billed as a “Live, Work and Play destination.”

Mr. Hary said work on the Lido golf course was 80 percent complete and that construction of the resort buildings would begin after it was finished. He offered no similar details for the Bali project.

Last year, the MNC Group said it would receive $500 million in financing from an arm of Metallurgical Corporation of China, a state-owned construction company, to build the theme park.

The deal falls under the umbrella of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious plan to spread money and influence by financing infrastructure and other projects worldwide, a high priority for China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

Mr. Hary said the theme park and the Trump resort were not connected and that China would not provide financing for the Trump-branded project.

According to an MNC presentation in February, the Lido project is slated to have a 120-room hotel, an 18-hole golf course designed by the professional golfer Ernie Els, and a complex of 438 luxury villas and condominiums.

The Bali resort is to include 368 luxury condos and villas, a 150-unit hotel and an 18-hole golf course designed by the golfer Phil Mickelson.

Mr. Hary, who heads his own political party, the United Indonesia Party, or Perindo, was a candidate for vice president in 2014 and has talked of running for president. But he backed President Joko Widodo in his successful re-election campaign this year.

He insisted that his business and political activities did not overlap. “The business with the Trump Organization has nothing to do with my political career,” he told reporters.

There have been local media reports that Mr. Hary’s daughter, Angela Tanoesoedibjo, may be in the running for a position in Mr. Joko’s new cabinet. The president’s office has not confirmed that she is under consideration.

Even so, Mr. Hary’s partnership with the American president appears to have produced little political benefit for either Mr. Trump or Mr. Hary, Indonesia’s vice president, Jusuf Kalla, said last year in an interview with The New York Times.

ImageCreditAndri Tambunan for The New York Times

The vice president, whose term ends in October, noted that Mr. Trump’s business interests in Indonesia were not huge, relatively speaking, and said that Mr. Hary had not influenced diplomatic ties with the United States.

Indeed, Mr. Trump’s behavior has baffled many Indonesians who follow events in America.

“Many think he is weird, an unusual president,” Mr. Jusuf said. “Let’s see how a president controls a country with Twitter.”

In recent years, the projects in Indonesia have been small revenue generators for the Trump Organization, producing just $210,000 in 2018, according to President Trump’s 2018 financial disclosure, released in May.

The event in Jakarta comes as the Trump Organization has publicly struggled to keep the family business growing in the two and a half years since Mr. Trump moved into the White House.

In the United States, the Trump Organization has backed away from plans to start two new hotel brands, Scion and American Idea.

It has also seen the removal of the Trump name from a half a dozen properties, including Trump SoHo and Trump International Hotel and Tower in Panama City, Panama.

Even new projects are delayed. Trump Tower Punta del Este in Uruguay is already nearly three years behind schedule.

But the Trump Organization has continued to push ahead, particularly with the small number of international projects that had already been under contract before Mr. Trump was elected president.

Besides the project in Uruguay and a recently completed building in Manila in the Philippines, the other major ongoing international projects include a second golf course in Dubai, several residential towers in India and the two projects in Indonesia.

Donald Trump Jr. has been the lead salesman for the Trump Organization’s projects in Asia, an assignment that brought him last year to New Delhi, Kolkata, Pune and Mumbai in India.

That trip generated controversy when he was scheduled to give what sounded like a policy speech on relations between India and the United States. But the topic of the speech was ultimately changed, and he proclaimed that the trip to India was about family business, not foreign policy.

In Jakarta, Mr. Trump said that the Trump Organization’s decision to forgo big business opportunities overseas was not being properly recognized.

“We could have kept doing deals,” he said. “The media is never going to give us credit.”


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