Prime Minister’s Visit Highlights Trump’s Malaysian Conflicts

President Trump, who pays himself millions in taxpayer funds and sells out presidential access on a multi-million dollar scale, is today set to meet with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is himself “under the cloud of a corruption investigation.”

But not even Prime Minister Najib’s “corruption cloud” and accompanying Department of Justice investigation can distract from Trump’s own scandals — particularly as Najib’s visit puts Trump’s entangling Malaysian business conflicts of interest in high relief.

Trump’s Malaysian conflicts of interest epitomize his selling out the presidency for personal gain: the Trumps’ Trump Tower Vancouver partner, Malaysian national Joo Kim Tiah, was an invited guest at Trump’s inauguration, and he even trumpets his Trump family access on social media and in media interviews. There are consequences to Trump and his partners — especially foreign partners — using the presidency as a marketing tool — and none are good news for the American people.

“Setting aside the ‘new foreign deals‘ Trump lied about avoiding, his existing conflicts of interest in Malaysia and elsewhere are just as troubling. This visit — from a politician who, like Trump, faces corruption allegations — only serves to highlight Trump’s exploitation of the Oval Office for personal gain,” said American Bridge Vice President Shripal Shah. “Trump partners get special access to the White House and Trump, himself, gets a myriad of opportunities to make millions while selling out the American people.”

Trump’s Malaysian Business Interests

In 2013, Trump partnered with Malaysian businessman Joo Kim Tiah and his firms the Holborn Group and TA Global to develop Trump Tower Vancouver.  Trump Tower Vancouver opened in early 2017. The Trumps have continued their relationship with Joo Kim Tiah who attended the Presidential Inauguration in January 2017.

Joo Kim Tiah is a Malaysian national and the son of Tony Tiah, who founded TA Global and still owns the company as part of his holding company TA Enterprise.  Forbes listed Tony Tiah as Malaysia’s 35th richest man in 2011. He was fined for submitting a false report to the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in 2002.

Trump Partnered With Malaysian Businessman Joo Kim Tiah To Develop Trump Tower Vancouver

June 2013: Trump Partnered With The Holborn Group And TA Global For A Condominium-Hotel Tower In Vancouver

Trump Partnered With The Holborn Group For A $360 Million Hotel-Condominium Project In Vancouver

June 2013: Trump Partnered With The Holborn Group For A Hotel-Tower In Vancouver. According to the Canadian Press, “Vancouver has become the next stop for real estate tycoon and reality television icon Donald Trump’s international hotel chain. The 63-storey tower’s twisting design by now-deceased architect Arthur Erickson was originally meant for the cancelled Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the city’s downtown core. It will now be built by developer Holborn Group.” [Canadian Press, 6/19/13]

  • Tower Was Built By The Holborn Group And Co-Developer TA Global Bhd. According to Xinhua General News Service, “The tower, to be built in a unique twisting design created by the late Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, will include 147 hotel rooms and 218 luxury residences. With the hotel set to become part of the Trump Hotel Collection when the building opens in the summer of 2016 and the residences to be managed by the Trump Organization, Trump himself is investing no money into the project. It is being built by the Vancouver-based Holborn Group and co-developer TA Global Bhd, one of Malaysia’s largest property developers.” [Xinhua General News Service, 6/20/13]

Trump International Hotel And Tower Was A $360 Million Project. According to the Vancouver Sun, “Vancouver has become the next stop for real estate tycoon and reality television icon Donald Trump’s international hotel chain. Surrounded by his two sons and daughter, as well as the CEO of Vancouver-based developer Holborn Group, Trump says the $360-million Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver will be an architectural wonder and worth the hefty price. The 63-storey twisting tower will be built by Holborn Group on city property that was once slated to become a Ritz-Carlton Hotel with residential condos above.” [Vancouver Sun, 6/19/13]

Property Was Originally Intended To Be A Ritz-Carlton, But Was Cancelled In 2009

Trump Tower Was To Be Built On City Property That Was Once Slated To Become A Ritz-Carlton Hotel. According to The Province, “The 63-storey twisting Trump Tower will be built by Holborn Group on city property that was once slated to become a Ritz-Carlton Hotel with residential condos above. The tower will have luxury residences and guest rooms, as well as a night club, a champagne lounge, and a boutique spa.” [The Province, 6/19/13]

Project Was Originally Slated To Carry The Ritz-Carlton Name, But Was Cancelled In 2009 Due To The “Worldwide Economic Turmoil.” According to the Vancouver Sun, “The 63-storey Arthur Erickson-designed twisting tower on West Georgia is being built by Vancouver developer Holborn Holdings. The tower was cancelled in 2009, when it was still slated to carry the Ritz-Carlton name, because ‘worldwide economic turmoil’ affected the sale of units in the project, a letter from Holborn’s lawyers stated at the time. The project was resuscitated in the spring of 2013 after Holborn partnered with The Trump Organization, who not only received name rights to the building but also assumed control of the interior design and management of the tower. The tower is scheduled to open in 2016.” [Vancouver Sun, 12/8/15]

Trump Licensed His Branding To The Tower, But Did Not Invest In Development

Trump “Lent” His Brand To And Operated The Tower, But Did Not Invest In The Project’s Development. According to the Vancouver Sun, “The Trump Tower will have luxury residences and guest rooms, as well as a night club, a champagne lounge, and a boutique spa. The Trump family will be lending its brand, and will be operating the hotel, but the family will not be investing in the project’s development.” [Vancouver Sun, 6/19/13]

Developer Said “Trump Is An Important Brand. But This Is Still My Project.” According to Monte Cristo Magazine, “The ambition is by no means modest. The architecture alone makes a dramatic statement, but Tiah is not thinking only along those broad lines. ‘My parents fell in love with Vancouver and Whistler, and began slowly making investments here,’ he says. ‘They remain passionate about it to this day. For me, it was not like some epiphany or anything like that. I had slowly fallen in love with the real estate business, and I kept thinking about what is missing from the market here. That’s when the project with Trump came into play.’ The Trump brand is of course important to him, because of their business prowess, their professionalism. ‘They are terrific to work with, truly great at hotel management, and real estate development. In fact, Donald Jr. and I have an affinity for each other, both having such larger-than-life fathers, in a high-profile business. Let’s just say we easily relate to each other.’ But there is something quite organic about Tiah’s ambitions, as well. ‘Trump is an important brand. But this is still my project,’ he says. ‘It took me a year and a half to find the right partner, actually. But the idea here is to make something that all of Vancouver can be proud of, a local champion that has international appeal, most of all, simply, a place people want to come to.’” [Monte Cristo Magazine, Spring 2015]

Trump’s Financial Stake In Deal Was Not Revealed

President Of The Holborn Group Tiah Joo Kim Declined To Reveal How Much Trump Received For His Participation. According to Xinhua General News Service, “Tiah Joo Kim, CEO and president of the Holborn Group and deputy CEO of TA Global Bhd, declined to reveal how much the Trump Organization is receiving for its participation. In a soft real estate market where luxury properties sales in Vancouver were down 29 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with a year earlier, according to realtor organization RE/MAX, Tiah, heir to a Malaysian investment banking and stockbroking fortune, was confident the project would attract buyers at home and abroad.” [Xinhua General News Service, 6/20/13]

Joo Kim Tiah Was CEO Of The Holborn Group And TA Global

Holborn Group Described Itself As “A Vancouver-Based Developer With An International Background And Global Vision.” According to Trump Vancouver, “Holborn is a Vancouver-based developer with an international background and global vision. Holborn’s diverse portfolio of projects and real estate management services throughout British Columbia include retail, residential, office and hotel properties.” [Trump Vancouver, Accessed 5/2/16]

2013: Joo Kim Tiah Was CEO And President Of The Holborn Group And Deputy CEO Of TA Global Bhd. According to a press release by the Holborn Group and published by Canada NewsWire, “‘Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver will become a new symbol for Vancouver and will solidify the city’s arrival on the international stage,’ commented Joo Kim Tiah, CEO and president of Holborn Group and deputy CEO of TA Global Bhd., the developer of Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver. ‘The Trump brand is very well-respected and is synonymous in luxury real estate and hospitality. I’m pleased to have a strong relationship with Don, Jr., Ivanka and Eric and look forward to carrying on the entrepreneurial legacy that our parents have begun. Our shared vision and a work ethic that prides itself on diligence and attention to detail will result in a development that is cutting-edge, and matches Vancouver’s vibrant personality.’” [Holborn Group Press Release – Canada NewsWire, 6/20/13]

Joo Kim Was The Son Of Tony Tiah, Who Made His Fortune From A Stockbroking Company

Joo Kim Was Born In Kuala Lumpur And Was The Eldest Son Of Tony And Alicia Tiah. According to The Star, “Tiah Joo Kim, 30, deputy CEO and heir apparent to property and investment company, TA Enterprise, may have been born with a silver spoon but he insists he has earned whatever he has received. […] Born in Kuala Lumpur, Tiah Joo Kim, the eldest son of Datuk Tony Tiah and Datin Alicia Tiah, received his Bachelor of Science in Management from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the United States and earned his Master of International Business at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Tiah, who has two elder sisters and a younger brother and sister, is the heir apparent of his parents’ investment and property businesses. ‘As the eldest son, I was given to understand that my parents would groom me to be the eventual successor of TA. However, my father made it clear that I had to prove I could handle the responsibilities before he passed the baton to me. He said the last thing he wanted was for me to fail or, worse, to lose everything they had worked so hard for.” [The Star, 8/14/10]

Tony Tiah Made A Fortune From Founding TA Global, A Retail-Based Stockbroking Company. According to the Edge Malaysia, “Datuk Tony Tiah, a well-known stockbroker in the 1990s, will be at the helm of the soon-to-be-listed TA Global Bhd, the company that holds TA Enterprise Bhd’s (TAE) property assets and landbank. Tiah, the co-founder of the retail-based stockbroking company, will be the executive chairman of TA Global, which will make its debut on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia on Nov 23. ‘He [Tiah] will play an active role in TA Global. Meanwhile, I will remain the managing director and CEO of TAE, taking care of the financial services business,’ Tiah’s spouse Datin Alicia Tiah tells The Edge. Tiah is currently the executive chairman of TAE. He assumed the post in FY2008 ended Jan 31, according to the company’s annual report. Tiah has laid low since the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, staying behind the scenes most of the time. In the past 10 years or so, Alicia, the other co-founder of TAE, has been in the thick of action, managing the stockbroking division and growing the group’s property business.” [Edge Malaysia, 10/5/09]

  • Tiah And His Wife Built One Of Malaysia’s Largest Stockbroking Firms. According to Malaysian Business, “Datuk Tony Tiah Thee Kian, 63 Chairman, TA Group RM586.55 million AFTER almost a decade of noticeable absence from the corporate scene, Datuk Tony Tiah Thee Kian’s return can hardly be missed – it coincided with the listing of the Tiahs’ second company, TA Global Bhd, on Bursa Malaysia. TA Enterprise Bhd, which Tiah and his wife Alicia had built into one of the nation’s largest stockbroking firms, spun off its property arm TA Global Bhd, which made its debut on the Main Market on Nov 23, 2009, exactly 19 years after TA Enterprise was listed.” [Malaysian Business, 2/16/10]

2011: Forbes Ranked Tony Tiah As Malaysia’s 35th Richest Man.  According to Forbes, Tiah Thee Kain was #35 on Forbes’ 2011 list of Malaysia’s 40 richest.  [Forbes, 3/1/11]

Joo Kim Tiah Was Named CEO Of TA Global As A “Culmination Of A Plan” After His Father Re-Emerged After Being Convicted For Fraud

2016: Joo Kim Tiah Was Named CEO Of TA Global Bhd, The Property Arm Of TA Enterprise Bhd – The Company His Father Built. According to the Vancouver Sun, “In January, Joo Kim was named CEO of TA Global Bhd, the property arm of TA Enterprise Bhd, the company his father built. It was the culmination of a plan announced in 2009 — according to an article posted on TA Enterprise’s website — when Tony Tiah re-emerged years after his conviction in a stock-fraud probe to pass the torch to his descendants.” [Vancouver Sun, 5/1/16]

2002: Tony Tiah Was Convicted For Making False Reports To The Stock Exchange In Malaysia

2002: Tony Tiah Was Convicted For Making False Reports To The Stock Exchange In Malaysia. According to The Star, “‘Without Tony Tiah, there is no TA. My wife is good at operations, I am the visionary one.’ Tiah was convicted for making false reports to the stock exchange in 2002, which led to his resignation from TA Enterprise in the same year. He was fined RM3mil and barred from holding any directorship for five years. ‘My past is something difficult to explain. What’s the point of blemishing me? What can you achieve? It has been years,’ he said. Tiah and Datuk Soh Chee Wen were charged with defrauding Omega Securities Sdn Bhd of RM424mil in a share transaction in August 1999.” [The Star, 10/7/09]

2002: Tony Tiah Was Fined After Pleading Guilty To Submitting A False Report To The Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange On Transactions Involving More Than 35 Million Shares Of Omega Holdings Bhd. According to the New Straits Times, “TA Enterprise Bhd executive chairman Datuk Tony Tiah was fined the maximum RM3 million by the Sessions Court today after he pleaded guilty to submitting a false report to the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange on transactions involving more than 35 million shares of Omega Holdings Bhd. With the conviction, Tiah, 55, cannot hold any directorship in any company for the next five years as provided for in the Companies Act. Tiah pleaded guilty to one of the three alternative charges preferred against him by the prosecution today. He pleaded guilty to furnishing a false report to the KLSE in relation to his dealings in securities by way of direct business transactions involving 28,036,000 OHB shares and 7,010,000 OHB-A shares, in which the prices of the shares were reported to be transacted at RM11.50 and RM9.80 per share respectively when in fact the shares were transacted at RM6.45 per share. He admitted to knowingly and wilfully permitting the furnishing of the false report at TA Securities Bhd, Menara TA One, 22, Jalan P. Ramlee, on Nov 18, 1997.” [New Straits Times, 5/11/02]

Joo Kim Tiah Atteneded Trump’s Inauguration

Joo Kim Tiah Attended Trump’s Inauguration. According to Mother Jones, “Update: A third foreign business associate attended Trump’s inauguration and posted photographs of the festivities on Instagram. Joo Kim Tiah, the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest men, is Trump’s partner on his new Vancouver hotel tower, slated to open in early February.” [Mother Jones, 1/25/17]

2017: Hotel Opens

January 2017: Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver Opened. According to Washington Post, “As President Trump settles into his first week in the White House, the first paying guests will begin checking in tonight into the lavish suites of the Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver, a glass skyscraper developed by the son of one of Malaysia’s wealthiest business executives. The tower, the first foreign business launch of the Trump brand during the new presidency, is an early test of Trump’s controversial decision to retain ownership of his businesses while promising to combat ethical conflicts by removing himself from the management. It also shows how Trump properties around the world are likely to become focal points for protest or other forms of expressions aimed at the U.S. president and his policies. rump and his family do not own the Vancouver project, but the president has a stake in its continued success. The developers have paid Trump’s company for the use of his name while they also pay fees for his company to manage the hotel, according to federal financial disclosures filed by Trump.” [Washington Post, 1/25/17]

Tiffany Trump Attended The Opening Of Trump’s Vancouver Hotel, Along With Donald Jr. And Eric Trump. According to Daily Mail, “Tiffany Trump joined her brothers Donald Jr. and Eric on Tuesdayfor the opening of one of the family’s new properties, suggesting that she may be taking on a larger role in the Trump Organization while sister Ivanka is down in DC. The three siblings journeyed north to celebrate the debut of Trump Hotel & Tower Vancouver, where they were joined by Donald’s wife Vanessa and Eric’s wife Lara. Photos show the group smiling and laughing at the big opening, then later gathering for the ribbon cutting, during which Tiffanny was kept separated from the other two couples and placed on the opposite end of the ceremonial tape.” [Daily Mail, 3/1/17]

  • The U.S. State Department Spent Over $15,000 At The Trump Hotel In Vancouver During The Grand Opening Of The Hotel In February Attended By Members Of The Trump Family.  According to the Washington Post, “The State Department spent more than $15,000 to book 19 rooms at the new Trump hotel in Vancouver when members of President Trump’s family headlined the grand opening of the tower in late February. The hotel bookings — which were released to The Washington Post under a Freedom of Information Act request — reflect the first evidence of State Department expenditures at a Trump-branded property since President Trump took office in January. The department redacted many of the details on the invoice from the U.S. Consulate General in Vancouver and declined to provide additional information about the nature of the State Department’s presence at the hotel. Although the Secret Service is responsible for protecting the president’s family, the State Department provides assistance with security and logistics for international trips.”  [Washington Post, 7/12/17]