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Ethics chief slams Trump Organisation handover plan as 'wholly inadequate'

The director of the US Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, has slammed US President-elect Donald Trump's proposal as 'wholly inadequate' in resolving any potential conflicts of interest

12 January 2017, 8:25am
Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he would give control of his business, the Trump Organisation, to his two adult sons
Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he would give control of his business, the Trump Organisation, to his two adult sons
The director of the US Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has sharply criticised Donald Trump's plan to hand his global business empire to his sons before his inauguration on 20 January.

The plan does not match the "standards" of US presidents over the last 40 years, OGE director Walter Shaub said.

"We can't risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for. Unfortunately, his current plan cannot achieve that goal," he added.

Trump announced on Wednesday that he would give control of his business, the Trump Organisation, to his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump. The President-elect also said he would place his assets into a trust. "They are not going to discuss [the business] with me," he said. "Again, I don't have to do this. They're not going to discuss it with me."

The Trump Organisation is an umbrella company for Donald Trump's hundreds of investments in real estate, brands and other businesses.

A Trump lawyer said earlier the new trust would face "severe restrictions" on new deals. Outlining a structure designed by her and colleagues at the law firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, lawyer Sherri Dillon said President-elect Trump wanted Americans to have no doubt that he was "completely isolating himself from his business interests".

The trio in charge "will make decisions for the duration of the presidency without any involvement whatsoever by President-elect Trump," she said.

No foreign deals will be made and domestic deals will be subject to "vigorous vetting", she added.

But Shaub said the plan would not remove conflicts of interest, unlike in a blind trust, he would still see information about the businesses and deals being made in the newspapers and on television.

"Every president in modern times has taken the strong medicine of divestiture," he said, referring to a process whereby Trump would sell off his corporate assets and put the profits into a blind trust run by an independent trustee.

"His sons are still running the businesses and, of course, he knows what he owns," he said at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington DC. "Nothing short of divestiture will resolve these conflicts."

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