FBI has yet to contact developer of Vancouver’s Trump tower

Holborn Group CEO Joo KIm Tiah adds that he has never had business dealings with Jared Kushner

Tiah clan patriarch Tony Tiah is at left, next to son Joo Kim Tiah, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump at a ceremony to launch the Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver in February 2017 | Glen Korstrom

The developer of the Trump tower in Vancouver says he has not been contacted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or any other authorities with regard to an investigation that U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly conducting into Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner’s business dealings.

U.S. news network CNN reported on March 1 that an investigation is ongoing and includes negotiations and financing arrangements at the Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver.

“Holborn Group and [CEO] Joo Kim Tiah have not been contacted by FBI or any authorities with regards to matters raised in the CNN media report,” Holborn said in a statement emailed to Business in Vancouver on March 5

“Neither Holborn Group nor Joo Kim Tiah have any interaction or business dealings with Jared Kushner whatsoever.”

Holborn Group and Joo Kim Tiah’s business relationship with the Trump Organization extends only to a brand-licensing and hotel-management agreement for the hotel part of the tower, which was developed jointly by Holborn and a related company, TA Global Berhad - a venture that Tiah also heads as CEO and which was largely built by his father, Malaysian billionaire Tony Tiah Thee Kian.

The brand-licensing and hotel-management agreements between Trump Organization, Holborn Group and TA Global Berhad for Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver were entered into in March 2013, according to the statement. 

This was long before U.S. President Donald Trump entered the race to become the Republican Party’s candidate for president in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

“Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump represented the Trump Organization in business dealings with Joo Kim Tiah and other representatives of Holborn Group and TA Global Berhad pursuant to the Trump Agreements,” said the statement.

“Ivanka Trump’s involvement was specifically on interior design and Ivanka Trump's interior design was utilised towards the development of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver.”

The entire development of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Vancouver was funded by Holborn Group and TA Global Berhad, according to the statement.

The Trump Organization receives licensing and marketing fees from Holborn, and President Trump’s June financial disclosure form said the Trump Organization made more than $5 million in royalties and $21,500 in management fees from the Vancouver property, according to CNN.

BIV has reported on the long flow of lawsuits that resulted while the project was being built. One of those lawsuits was contractor Urban One, which sued Holborn for $835,059.10 in unpaid bills for providing contract management services.

Urban One president Allan Beron told BIV last month that Holborn had settled that lawsuit and paid in full.

Tiah confirmed in an email earlier this week that relations with Urban One are good enough that he might contract the company again for future projects.

The $360 million project features 147 guest rooms and 217 luxury residences, many of which were purchased by foreign buyers.