These Companies Are Under Federal Investigation — And Paying Trump Millions in Rent

Is it OK for the president of the United States to use his office for personal profit? According to a Transparency International poll released in December 2017, many Americans are not pleased with the situation.

In fact, an alarming number (44%) said Donald Trump and his staff were the most corrupt thing going in U.S. society. That number represented a 36% increase from the last year of the Obama White House.

Clearly, the first “businessman president” has not settled his conflicts of interest. A February 2018 report by Forbes revealed just how deep Trump’s ties to the Chinese government ($2 million in annual payments) and other foreign entities go. In a word, it comes down to the tens of millions in rent Trump companies charge tenants around the world.

Yet foreign governments aren’t the only concern here. American corporations who have business in Washington D.C. also happen to be Trump tenants — and several faced charges for civil and criminal violations in 2017. Here are the companies that paid millions to Trump while defending themselves against federal investigations.

1. State Street Corp.

Donald Trump listens intently.

State Street Corp. paid $2.2 million in rent on Trump-owned properties. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: $2.2 million

While hardly a household name, you may have seen State Street Corp. in the news in 2017. The bank, which is based in Boston, admitted to defrauding clients and agreed to pay $64.6 million to settle criminal charges and pay SEC fines.

Forbes tracked down the bank’s rent payments to Trump properties, estimating the annual tab at $2.2 million. The building is located in New York on Sixth Avenue just below 52nd Street, a few blocks away from Trump Tower.

Next: This company saw one of its top attorneys go work for Trump in D.C.

2. Verizon

Verizon logo seen at headquarters

Verizon is one of Trump’s major tenants. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: Undisclosed

Most Americans got to know Ajit Pai, Trump’s FCC Chair, for his 2017 effort to end net neutrality. Before that, Pai worked as one of Verizon’s top lawyers. You can’t blame anyone for wondering how that affected the investigation Verizon settled with the FCC in October of the same year.

The connection becomes more questionable when you notice Verizon is one of Trump’s major tenants at 40 Wall St. and spent 2017 lobbying the federal government. Since the FCC Inspector General launched an investigation into Pai into collusion with Sinclair Broadcasting, it only got worse.

Next: This big bank lobbied the government, faced federal investigation, and had its CEO in the White House — all in 2017.

3. JPMorgan Chase

The JP Morgan Chase building.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon sits on one of Trump’s economic councils. | Chris Hondros/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: $1.5 million

2017 was a busy year for JPMorgan Chase in Washington. CEO Jamie Dimon served on one of Trump’s economic councils and popped up regularly in the White House. Meanwhile, the bank was busy lobbying the federal government to get the corporate tax rate slashed.

All the while, Chase was a major tenant of Trump’s at 1290 Avenue of the Americas in New York, where the bank pays an annual $1.5 million for its space. The bank also had to pay a $4.6 million fine for checking account violations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in August 2017.

It’s probably just a coincidence that Trump sent Mick Mulvaney, his budget director, to head the CFPB a few months later. Mulvaney said he wanted to halt funding for similar enforcements in January 2018.

Next: This bailed-out bank knows where its bread is buttered.

4. Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch

Merrill Lynch was under investigation for securities violations in 2016 and 2017. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: Undisclosed

Many Americans know Merrill Lynch as the Wall St. bank that paid out billions in bonuses just before getting a taxpayer bailout. Merrill also was under investigation for securities violations during the 2016 campaign and into 2017.

While Forbes does not know the exact amount Merrill Wealth Management pays Trump to rent space in San Francisco building, the outlet has confirmed there’s a deal in place.

Next: Few companies hustled customers as often as this Trump tenant.

5. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo doesn’t have the greatest track record. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: $600,000

Before finishing her term as Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen hit Wells Fargo with the harshest penalty a bank had seen in years: Yellen said the bank couldn’t get any bigger.

After decades of conning customers in a lengthy sting of scams, the penalty still seemed on the light side. Wells Fargo remained a tenant of Trump’s at 555 California St. in San Francisco.

Next: While Trump leases the Old Post Office hotel in D.C., the USPS rents one of Trump’s properties.

6. U.S. Postal Service


The U.S. Postal Service pays a small amount of rent to Trump. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: $1,000

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is part of the executive branch of the government and also a tenant of the president’s. So, in this case, Trump is renting (for a minor fee) space to a government entity under his control.

For most of 2017, a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee investigated the USPS for illegal shipments of opioids going to Americans via China.

Next: This financial firm made the news for its part in the Puerto Rico debt fiasco and charges of securities manipulation.

7. UBS Financial Services

UBS Finanacial

UBS Financial Services pays Trump more than $1 million a year in rent. | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: $1.4 million

It’s been a wild few years for UBS Financial Services, the firm that became a main player in the Puerto Rico debt crisis and was investigated for securities manipulation in 2017.

The firm also rents a pricey piece of real estate from Trump in San Francisco. Forbes quoted the annual rent UBS pays at $1.4 million.

Next: This firm, which was investigated for trader violations in 2017, rents from Trump in California.

8. Morgan Stanley

morgan stanley

Morgan Stanley rents space in a Trump building in San Francisco. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

  • Annual rent to Trump properties: Undisclosed

Morgan Stanley, another financial company under federal investigation in 2017, rents space in a Trump building in San Francisco. (Forbes could not confirm the annual lease terms at 555 California St.)

As many taxpayers may recall, Morgan Stanley also received a massive bailout ($107 billion) in 2008. Later, the firm paid $2.6 billion in fines for violations that contributed to the Great Recession.

In 2017, Trump’s tenant settled another investigation into its business practices, this time at a cost of $13 million.

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