One of President Donald Trump’s promises upon entering the Oval Office was that, to avoid conflicts of interest, his company would not work with overseas businesses. But a contract signed while building a golf course in Dubai may have broken that pledge.
According to a report from McClatchy DC, DAMAC Properties, which has partnered with the Trump organization to build a new Dubai golf course, hired a subsidiary of a Chinese construction firm called China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) to build roads and infrastructure around the new course. CSCEC, which Fortune ranked as the seventh-largest company in China and has been blacklisted by the World Bank for corruption, reportedly received $32 million in the deal. Tiger Woods designed the course itself at Trump World Golf Club, which is scheduled to open in Dubai in 2018.
Statements by the two companies confirm the agreement was reached in 2017. If the deal was struck after Trump’s inauguration, it could violate the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which says officials may not accept gifts, titles of nobility or emoluments from foreign governments with respect to their office, and that no benefit should be derived by holding office. A federal lawsuit that accuses Trump of violating this clause begins October 18. It was not immediately known if the Dubai golf project would be part of the suit.
Trump’s golf empire currently includes 17 courses, including two — Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links — that made GOLF’s most recent list of Top 100 Courses in the World. Sports Illustrated reported in August that the president’s relationship with the sport has never been more complicated.