Before taking office, Donald J. Trump pledged that his business empire would forgo new deals abroad while he was president. But as the Trump Organization unveils a new brand of hotels, that promise is not preventing the company from bringing foreign deals home.
The company, now largely run by Mr. Trump's eldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr., has been pursuing a downtown Dallas hotel project with a real estate firm that has deep Turkish roots. The hotel, if built, would fall under the Trump Organization's Scion chain, a more affordable alternative to its five-star luxury line.
An examination by The New York Times of records including corporation registrations, private emails and archived websites found that Alterra Worldwide, the real estate firm that would own the hotel and be partners with the Trumps, has business ties in Russia, Kazakhstan and at least two dozen other countries. Ordinarily, such international experience would be a selling point for the firm, but it is a complicating factor when dealing with Mr. Trump's company, where concerns already have been raised internally about some of Alterra's foreign connections.
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These revelations show that as the Trump Organization rolls out its new hotel line across the country — properties that the Trumps will manage and their partners will own — a partnership with Alterra may invite the foreign entanglements and potential conflicts of interest that the company said it sought to avoid in its international dealings.
Alterra's president, Mukemmel Sarimsakci, is a familiar face in Dallas, where he has recruited foreign investment to other developments that earned praise from city officials. Mr. Sarimsakci — who goes by Mike, or, alternatively, the "Turkish Trump" — is also listed on an expert consultant website charging $465 an hour for advice on doing business in such countries as Iran, Mexico and Nigeria. And he has counseled the governments of Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, Sudan and Georgia, among others, on renewable energy, he acknowledged to The Times.
His brother and longtime business partner, Yusuf Sarimsakci, has helped oversee numerous developments around the world, including the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow near the Kremlin, the hotel where Mr. Trump stayed in 2013 while his Miss Universe pageant came to town. On that project, Yusuf worked with a wealthy Kazakh businessman who has ties to the strong-arm leader of that country.
"For construction, we do business in Russia, Kazakhstan and Iraq, and we have a big office in Istanbul," Mike Sarimsakci said in 2015 at a start-up event in Texas, adding, "And that's run by my brother, my partner."
The Times's review of Alterra's international business dealings also found that Yusuf had worked with an array of companies based in corporate secrecy and tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, a revelation from the vast leak of legal and financial documents known as the Panama Papers. At least three of the companies shared an address in the British Virgin Islands that the Treasury Department — unrelated to Yusuf, who has never been accused of wrongdoing — identified as housing a sanctioned North Korean entity.
The Times's examination found that Alterra and its associates have done business in countries that have complex and tense relations with the United States — including Turkey, which has become a vexing place for the Trump administration. (Mr. Sarimsakci did not answer questions about his opinions on Turkish politics, though posts on Twitter from 2015 show some support for the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.)