Shortly after President Trump won the election, a company controlled by Chilean billionaire Andrónico Luksic bought a six-bedroom house in Washington, D.C., for $5.5 million. That house is now being rented by first daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Aside from being a member of one of the wealthiest families in Chile that oversees "a mining, banking, and industrial empire," The Wall Street Journal noted Luksic also happens to be involved in a heated legal dispute with the U.S. government:
A U.S. unit of the Luksic family's mining company, Antofagasta PLC, is battling the federal government and environmental groups over its proposed Minnesota mine. Part of the project would sit on U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1.1 million-acre tract of lakes and forest first protected by the government in 1926.
The Luksic unit, Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, sued the U.S. government in September in a Minnesota federal court over a preliminary move by the Interior Department to deny renewal of two key mineral leases. Nonetheless, the department in December denied the leases, citing the risk of "serious and irreplaceable harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable wilderness area." [The Wall Street Journal]
The mine is "potentially worth billions of dollars," and the company and Minnesota politicians are reportedly pushing the Trump administration to reverse the Obama administration's decision, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Luksic manager and relative Rodrigo Terré said the timing of Luksic's decision to invest in the house in late December and Trump and Kushner's move-in just weeks later was purely "coincidental." Luksic had not previously invested in D.C. property, but The Wall Street Journal noted he now also owns "two smaller apartments in an unfinished Washington building."
There appears to be no connection between the couple and the Chilean billionaire, and both Terré and a White House spokeswoman said the couple is paying "market value" for the house. If that's the case, an ethics lawyer told The Wall Street Journal there "might not be an ethics problem" — though there's still a "political-appearance question." Read more at The Wall Street Journal.