Trump’s Conflicts of Interest in St. Martin

The Trump Organization is selling Trump’s St. Martin estate for $8 million more than it paid for it just four years ago.

Sale of estate raises eyebrows

In May 2017, NPR reported that President Donald Trump’s estate on the island of St. Martin, known as Le Château des Palmiers, went up for sale. This is “the first known major divestiture of a Trump property since he became president.” The Trump Organization purchased the estate, which it uses as rental property, in 2013 for a reported $19.7 million.

As Trump has not divested himself from his company, he, along with his children, will profit from the sale of the St. Martin property. The Washington Post reported that the estate was on the market for $28 million, noting, “The effort to sell the high-priced estate in the midst of Trump’s tenure could present a similar ethical problem to the one his lawyer cited in defending his decision not to sell off his company after the election: A buyer could overpay as a way to gain currency with the president.” The same lawyer declined to comment to The Washington Post.

Additionally, The Washington Post noted, “If the estate is sold, the public probably would learn little, if anything, about who has purchased it,” as public records on the island “do not always show details of private property transactions.” Further, while Trump would have to disclose a final sale price on his future disclosure forms, “he would not be required to reveal the identity of the buyer.”

Neither the Trump Organization nor the White House responded to The Washington Post’s requests for comments on the sale.

Follow the paper trail

According to Trump’s July 2015 financial disclosure form—which was not verified by regulators and therefore may not include all of his foreign deals or assets—Trump received as much as $1 million in rent and owned and was a managing member of two companies seemingly related to his property in St. Martin: 

  • Excel Venture LLC, president, secretary, treasurer, member, received between $100,001 and $1,000,000 in rent
  • Excel Venture Corp., director, chairman, president

According to Trump’s May 2016 financial disclosure—which was not verified by regulators and therefore may not include all of his foreign deals or assets—Trump received as much as $1 million in rent and owned and was a managing member of two companies seemingly related to his property in St. Martin:

  • Excel Venture LLC, president, secretary, treasurer, member, received between $100,001 and $1,000,000 in rent
  • Excel Venture Corp., director, chairman, president.

Trump’s failure to divest his assets or place them in a blind trust has made it incredibly easy for foreign powers or shadowy individuals to funnel money in his direction for whatever purpose they see fit and for whatever reward they may reap. Until Trump deals with his sprawling conflicts of interest, Americans can have no assurance that the highest office in the land isn’t for sale.

Read the full series of columns here, and see the interactive map here.

Carolyn Kenney is a policy analyst with the National Security and International Policy team at the Center for American Progress. John Norris is a senior fellow at the Center.