NEW YORK: Donald Trump said Wednesday he had formally handed “complete and total” control of his business empire to his adult sons, Don Jr and Eric, in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest once he enters the White House.
The 70-year-old Trump, who is the wealthiest man to become US president, has been beset by accusations of conflict of interest ever since his electoral defeat of Democratic former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in November.
The Trump Organization, whose network of hotels, golf clubs and luxury residential towers stretches across 20 countries, is not listed on the stock market, and thus releases no public statistics.
Trump, who takes over the White House on January 20, has thus far not released his tax returns, meaning relatively little is known about the extent of its interests.
“My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner. They’re not going to discuss it with me,” the president-elect told a news conference.
Trump said he had signed documents “turning over complete and total control to my sons,” before handing the stage to his lawyer, who outlined the future structure of the Trump Organization.
‘No new foreign deals’
The attorney, Sheri Dillon, said a plan had been devised to “completely isolate” Trump from the management of his business during his presidency, adding that “no new foreign deals will be made whatsoever” while he is in the White House.
All pending deals — more than 30 — were canceled, causing “an immediate financial loss of millions of dollars” to Trump and his children, said Dillon, a partner in Washington law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
The plan also requires an ethics advisor to review and give written approval to any “new deals, actions, and transactions that can potentially raise ethics or conflicts of interest concerns,” she said.
Trump is “committed to ensuring that activities of the Trump Organization are beyond reproach and cannot be perceived to be exploitative of the office of the presidency.”
Trump will resign from all officer and other positions he holds in his businesses, and daughter Ivanka, whose husband Jared Kushner will be a special adviser to the president, will have no further involvement in the business.
Dillon said a blind trust would not have resolved all the potential conflicts of interest, adding that divestiture or sale, which she argued is not required of a president as of other government officials, “isn’t even feasible.”
“In sum, all of these actions — complete relinquishment of management, no foreign deals, ethics adviser approval of deals, sharply limited information rights — will sever President-elect Trump’s presidency from the Trump Organization,” she said.
In addition, Trump will donate all the proceeds from any foreign government officials to his hotels to the US Treasury.
According to PrivCo, which seeks to provide financial and business information on private companies, The Trump Organization employs about 22,000 people and had revenues of $9.5 billion in 2014.
Trump closed his press conference with a warning to his sons.
“I hope at the end of eight years I’ll come back and say, oh, you did a good job. Otherwise, if they do a bad job, I’ll say, ‘You’re fired!'” he said, using his signature line from his reality television show “The Apprentice.”
Don Jr tweeted a reply shortly afterwards.
“Well this could be interesting in 4 to 8 years. #nopressure,” he wrote.