Date: December 4, 2018

How We Found Donald Trump Jr.’s Secret Investment in a Fundraiser’s Business

Donald Trump Jr. and Gentry Beach, a Dallas-based investor and college friend of Trump Jr., have done business together before, despite past claims by both men that their relationship is strictly personal.

But a new story by ProPublica reveals that Trump became a shareholder last year in Beach’s hydroponic lettuce company, while Beach was seeking government support for his other business interests. Emails obtained by ProPublica via the Freedom of Information Act show that since President Donald Trump’s election, Beach sought backing for energy projects in the Dominican Republic and India. Officials say he never officially applied for government financing.

Here’s how ProPublica uncovered a paper trail revealing Trump Jr.’s investment in the vertical hydroponic lettuce farm now selling packaged greens in Walmarts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Trump Organization Employee Forms MSMDF Agriculture LLC (September 2017)

On Sept. 13, 2017, eight months after Donald Trump entered the White House, a Trump Organization employee formed a new company in Delaware called MSMDF Agriculture LLC. The public filing provided no other information about the entity, who controlled it or what it was to be used for.

Gentry Beach Seeks Federal Support for his Global Business Interests (October 2017)

At the same time that Beach served as co-chairman of the hydroponic lettuce growing company, emails obtained by ProPublica show, he sought government funds for his other business interests from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. OPIC is a federal agency that offers loans and guarantees to American companies looking to expand into emerging markets. In one email from October 2017, Beach emailed OPIC head Ray Washburne about his infrastructure and energy projects in the Dominican Republic, writing that the storm-damaged country “could really use some US investment and support.” An OPIC spokeswoman says that Beach hasn’t submitted a formal application for funding and that the agency carefully vets its applicants.

Trump Jr. Listed as President of MSMDF in New York City Filing (December 2017)

Pursuant to its contracts with the city of New York to run an ice skating rink in Central Park and a golf course in the Bronx, the Trump Organization is required to file annual disclosure reports listing entities it controls as well as those for which its executives serve as principals or officers. In December 2017, the company listed Trump Jr. as the president, secretary and treasurer of MSMDF Agriculture LLC in its disclosure report. In a statement, Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s top lawyer, said MSMDF is “wholly owned and controlled” by Trump Jr., and isn’t affiliated with the Trump Organization.

Eden Green Announced Millions Raised From Investors (June 2018)

The company announced in June that it had raised millions. Just weeks later, its affiliate Eden Green Holdings UK Ltd. disclosed to British regulators that it had issued hundreds of thousands of shares to roughly two dozen investors. Among them? MSMDF Agriculture LLC, which has 7,500 shares.

This document for the first time linked the Delaware-incorporated entity with the indoor lettuce farming business run by campaign fundraiser Beach. That summer the company publicly announced it had raised $22 million from its private investors without naming them. But one of the investors, an entity called Cox-Eden, L.P., used by a wealthy oil and gas family in Midland, Texas, said in court papers filed months later that it had supplied Eden Green with $20 million of the $22 million raised.

Beach is listed as one of the seven principals of Eden Green, according to court filings, along with Grady “Trey” Thomas III, Eric Schick, Jaco Booyens, and brothers Eugene and Jacques van Buuren and Gerhard Ehlers. Beach is named co-chairman of Eden Green, according to the company’s website.

A list of staff on Eden Green's website, including Beach, the co-chairman.

Eden Green’s Biggest Investor Claims Mismanagement, Settles Case (October - November 2018)

On Oct. 30, 2018, Eden Green’s biggest investor filed a lawsuit in Dallas County Court, alleging that company officials had blown through more than $19 million in just nine months. The lawsuit also claimed company executives paid themselves salaries as high as $300,000 and had put the company “on the precipice of failure.” But less than a month after the court papers were filed, the parties reached a settlement for undisclosed terms. A spokesman for Eden Green disputed the claims of exorbitant compensation and said the company has plenty of cash.

Check out the full documents used for this story.

Do you have information about post-election Trump family business ventures? Reach Jake Pearson at jake.pearson@propublica.org or by phone at 917-512-0276.


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