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Jared Kushner To Answer Questions About Meeting With Russian Bank Officials


President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner has agreed to meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee which is looking into Russia's involvement in last year's election. Kushner is likely to be questioned in coming days about a meeting he held last year with the CEO of a top Russian bank. Here's more from NPR's Jim Zarroli.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: In July 2014, President Obama announced a new round of sanctions against Russia over its occupation of Crimea.


BARACK OBAMA: What we are expecting is that the Russian leadership will see once again that its actions in Ukraine have consequences.

ZARROLI: Among those targeted by the sanctions was the Russian development bank known by the initials VEB. It is not a commercial bank. Instead, VEB is used by the government to fund projects such as new power plants and factories. And it's a last resort lender to the country's other banks. Will Pomeranz is deputy director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

WILL POMERANZ: It's virtually entire executive board or board of directors are more prominent members of the government because it is a state institution.

ZARROLI: Critics say VEB is essentially a slush fund for corrupt government officials including President Vladimir Putin. The bank was hit by heavy losses after the 2014 Sochi Olympics and because of the U.S. sanctions, it has been unable to refinance its considerable debt. So it has a strong interest in seeing those sanctions lifted.

Last year, the bank had to be bailed out by the Russian government, and its CEO was fired. The man who replaced him was Sergei Gorkov who met in December with President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. Again, Will Pomeranz.

POMERANZ: Its very unclear why he would want to meet with Mr. Kushner, especially knowing that his bank is under sanctions and therefore knowing that the ability of the U.S. to deal with his bank is significantly limited.

ZARROLI: VEB acknowledged that bank officials met with Kushner in his capacity as an executive and his family's real estate firm. The bank said it was one of a number of meetings it has held with leaders of financial institutions all over the world. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Kushner would answer questions about the meeting when he talks to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF OZZIE SONG, "U") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.