So Who Were the Indian Tycoons Who Got to Meet Donald Trump Before Their Own Prime Minister?
Last week photographs of President-elect Donald Trump meeting with three Indian real estate executives at Trump Towers, New York, surfaced on social media.
The engagement with the three property moguls — Sagar and Atul Chordia, and Kalpesh Mehta — precedes Trump meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi or indeed any other world leader besides Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe since his election.
So who are these businessmen, and how were they able to secure an audience with the U.S.A’s incoming commander-in-chief?
The Chordias — who made Forbes Magazine‘s list of India’s 100 richest people in 2014 — run a company called Panchshil Realty, which, CNNMoney reports, built the first Trump-branded property in India. On its company website, Panchshil Realty says that its 23-story Trump Tower, in the western city of Pune, upholds the “unrivaled standards of the Trump brand.”
Kalpesh Mehta is the founder of Tribeca Developers, which styles itself as the “exclusive India representative of the Trump Organization.”
Their meeting has raised the specter of conflict of interest between Trump’s corporations and his political duties — a concern the president-elect has repeatedly dismissed on the grounds that his business empire would be run as “a blind trust.”
But this is the second time in less than a week such issues have arisen. On Thursday, Trump’s daughter Ivanka accompanied him during his meeting Abe — despite not having security clearance and despite her being an executive in the Trump Organization.
“This is not the way we behave in the world’s leading constitutional democracy,” Norman Eisen, special counsel and ethics adviser to President Barack Obama between 2009 and 2011 told Fortune‘s Pamela Kruger. “It’s like something out of a tin-pot oligarchy.”
For more on Trump’s potential conflicts of interest, watch Fortune’s video:
On Monday, neither the Chordias nor Mehta responded to CNNMoney’s requests for comment but Amanda Miller, vice president of marketing at the Trump Organization told CNNMoney that no business of any sort was conducted at the meeting.
Last week Sagar Chordia told India’s Economic Times that Donald Trump was praising Modi “as always and added that he is doing a great job.” Chordia added that Trump expects to strengthen and expand the U.S.’s relationship with India, the Economic Times reports.