Trump’s Pick for Envoy to India has Dubious Ties With Equity Firm

The White House had confirmed on Wednesday that Juster will be nominated to the post after PM Modi’s US visit.

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Kenneth I Juster. (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/<a href="https://twitter.com/srirambjp">Sriram‏</a>)

The next likely US Ambassador to India, Kenneth I Juster, might find himself embroiled in a conflict of interest scandal. A private equity firm linked to Juster, reported The Daily Beast, has been heavily investing money in Indian companies.

The White House had confirmed on Wednesday that Juster will be nominated to the post. A formal announcement will most likely come after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 26 June visit to the US.

Juster, 62, is the deputy assistant to the US President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy Director of his National Economic Council. He will replace Richard Verma if confirmed by the Senate.

Till January, Juster was partner in Warburg Pincus, the firm in question. In a White House financial disclosure form, Juster admitted to his involvement in eight of the firm’s Indian portfolios.

If Warburg Pincus’ investment spree in Indian companies, including Tata Tech and ICICI Lombard, is found linked to Juster’s nomination in any capacity, it would raise ethical questions, along with likelihood of financial conflicts. It also raises concerns about movement from the private sector to the public.

The White House is yet to comment on the matter.

Larry Noble, who works on ethical issues for a watchdog group called Campaign Legal Center, and is a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission, commented on the matter and said:

The issue for the administration is to ensure that Juster avoids any conflicts of interests when dealing with matters that involve his former firm. The nature of the potential conflicts will depend, in part, on whether he has any continuing financial ties to the Warburg Pincus.

As a senior commerce department official, during the George W Bush administration, Juster also served as the US chair of the US-India High Technology Cooperation Group. He was also one of the key architects of the ‘Next Steps in Strategic Partnership’ initiative between the US and India.

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