Donald Trump does not owe the Bank of China tens of millions of dollars.
On Friday, Politico reported incorrectly that President Trump was tens of millions of dollars in debt to the state-controlled Chinese Bank. The story also incorrectly referred to “the historic precedent of a developer-turned president paying back millions to a bank controlled by a foreign government.”
The story went on to claim that Trump’s alleged “financial dealings” with the Chinese bank “complicates one of Trump’s emerging campaign attacks against Biden: that the former vice president would be a gift to the Communist country and America’s chief economic rival.”
But Donald Trump was not the borrower and Bank of China is not the creditor to the investment vehicle that owns the New York City office building that is the focus of the story.
Ali Pardo, deputy communications director for press for the Trump Campaign, said:
The far left and liberal media will stop at nothing to undermine the President. They’ll even go as far as to sensationalize stories that don’t make any logical sense. President Trump was one of the nation’s most successful businessmen before he entered public service, while people like Hunter Biden have been cashing in on his family name and unfathomably been profiting from his father’s political career.
Trump does have an investment in an office tower located at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, near Rockefeller Center in New York City. But the loan financing that building is no longer owed to the Bank of China. It was sold years ago into a securitization that is serviced by Wells Fargo and owned by a wide range of investors.
The Trump organization owns a 30 percent stake in the limited partnership that owns 1290 Avenue of Americas, making President Trump a passive minority investor. The rest of the partnership is owned by Vornado Realty Trust, one of the biggest commercial real estate investors in the U.S.
The building’s tenants include AXA Equitable Financial, Neuberger Berman, and Hachette Books.
Back in 2012, the building was refinanced with a $950 million loan from a consortium of banks that included the Bank of China, which had already become one of the largest lenders to commercial real estate in the U.S. The other lenders at the time were the commercial real estate financing units of Deutsche Bank, UBS, and Goldman Sachs.
But those loans were then packaged into bonds, commercial mortgage-backed securities, and sold to investors. Wells Fargo serves as the master servicer, meaning any payments on the loans would go to Wells rather than the Bank of China. The bonds are owned by a wide range of investors, including mutual funds managed by Vanguard, J.P. Morgan Chase and T.D. Ameritrade.
The securitization happened within days of the closing of the original loan and ended the Bank of China’s role in the loan. As a result, the Bank of China is no longer a direct lender to the building’s partnership—and Trump certainly does not owe tens of millions of dollars to the Chinese lender.
The securitization was widely reported at the time because it was the first time a Chinese lender had participated in the sale of U.S. commercial-mortgage-backed securities.
The deal was sponsored by the controlling partner Vornado without any active involvement by the Trump organization or President Trump himself. Contrary to the false report in Politico, the president had no financial dealings with the state-controlled Chinese bank.