GRAND RAPIDS, MI - DECEMBER 9: President-elect Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump is continuing his victory tour across the country. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
GRAND RAPIDS, MI - DECEMBER 9: President-elect Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump is continuing his victory tour across the country. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:30
Trump's business shutters 3 overseas projects
CNN
Now playing
02:12
'Too dangerous to do anymore': Sacha Baron Cohen on Borat
John Avlon 0413 Wallace
CNN
John Avlon 0413 Wallace
Now playing
03:31
Avlon compares Tucker Carlson's comments to George Wallace
screengrab hong kong oscars
IMDB / Field of Vision
screengrab hong kong oscars
Now playing
02:50
Hong Kong won't air Oscars for the first time since 1968
Now playing
01:27
See the first community of 3D-printed homes
Now playing
05:18
Anderson Cooper explains how he overcomes being shy
Burlington, MA Headquarters
Nuance
Burlington, MA Headquarters
Now playing
01:34
Microsoft to buy AI company Nuance
Now playing
02:50
Sleep doctor tells Anderson Cooper how long a power nap should be
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the quarterly CARES Act report on Capitol Hill December 1, 2020 in Washington, DC.  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also testified at the hearing. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell testifies during a Senate Banking Committee hearing about the quarterly CARES Act report on Capitol Hill December 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also testified at the hearing. (Photo by Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:06
Fed chief: The economy is about to grow more quickly
Christopher Hamilton
Now playing
01:01
Volcanologist shares what he prefers to cook on lava flows
"Saturday Night Live" / NBC
Now playing
01:47
'SNL' sees Minnesota news anchors take on the Derek Chauvin trial
Now playing
02:23
Pubs in England reopen after months of lockdown
DORAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27:  A Trump National Doral sign is seen at the golf resort owned by U.S. President Donald Trump's company on August 27, 2019 in Doral, Florida. President Trump said the United States may host the next G7 gathering at the golf resort. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
DORAL, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: A Trump National Doral sign is seen at the golf resort owned by U.S. President Donald Trump's company on August 27, 2019 in Doral, Florida. President Trump said the United States may host the next G7 gathering at the golf resort. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:46
'That is obviously false': CNN reporter on Trump supporter's attempt to rewrite history
Now playing
03:35
Why CrossFit CEO wants gyms included in infrastructure bill
Now playing
03:25
Camerota gives advice to Blackwell before they start new anchor roles
Fox News/Twitter
Now playing
01:33
ADL wants Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson over racist comments

Story highlights

Many of President-elect Donald Trump's international partners have political ties

Those ties include projects in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia

Watch CNN Investigations’ look into Trump’s international business partners on CNN’s “OutFront with Erin Burnett” at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday.

(CNN) —  

Donald Trump’s real estate empire spans the globe, with Trump hotel, golf and condominium projects in South America, Europe and Asia.

Most of Trump’s overseas real estate ventures are licensing agreements: Trump is paid by foreign developers to use the Trump name and his company works with the developers on the project.

But as the President-elect prepares to hand over his company to his sons, Trump’s international partnerships are now coming under increased scrutiny.

A CNN analysis of Trump’s overseas businesses shows many of his partners have political ties, and some have been followed by controversy and even allegations of criminal activity. The extent to which Trump will distance himself from these business relationships remains to be seen.

Although Trump listed about 150 companies that have had dealings in at least 25 countries in his recent financial disclosures, it’s these real estate deals that have generated much of his foreign income. To date, Trump has signed at least 14 licensing deals with developers in foreign countries, earning millions of dollars in the process.

Turkey

In Turkey, Trump has licensed his name to two towers in Istanbul, which opened in 2012. The property is owned by the business and media conglomerate Dogan Holding, founded by Turkish billionaire Aydin Dogan.

Dogan’s company and its news outlets have repeatedly clashed with Turkey’s government, which the watchdog organization Freedom House has accused of “intense harassment” of journalists.

In 2009, Turkey’s government slapped Dogan Holding with a $2.5 billion fine for unpaid taxes, which was reduced to about $700 million following an appeal by the company.

Earlier this year, Aydin Dogan was personally indicted by a Turkish prosecutor for allegedly participating in a fuel-smuggling scheme.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the company called the charges absurd and characterized them as a political witch hunt in response to at times unfavorable news coverage by Dogan’s news outlets, which includes CNN Turkey.

Trump’s dealings in Turkey have already pushed him into the middle of the controversy between Dogan and the Turkish government in at least one instance.

After Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US in 2015, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, criticized Dogan Holding and called for the company to remove Trump’s name from the Istanbul towers.

United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, Trump has partnered with billionaire Hussain Sajwani and his company DAMAC Properties on two golf courses still under development in Dubai.

Sajwani’s company purchased the land for the projects from the UAE government for $350 million in 2012, and the company has licensed other popular brands for projects throughout the Middle East.

 Hussain Sajwani, founder of the DAMAC Group
From DAMAC Group
Hussain Sajwani, founder of the DAMAC Group

But in 2011, an Egyptian court found Sajwani guilty in a case involving allegations of government corruption over a land deal. The Canadian government then froze Sajwani’s assets between 2011 and 2014, a spokesperson for Canada’s foreign relations department confirmed to CNN.

A spokesperson for Sajwani’s company said the conviction was a result of political instability following the Egyptian revolution when a new government administration targeted officials from the former regime.

Sajwani eventually reached a private settlement with the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority and avoided jail time.

“The case was settled on terms including the cancellation of the conviction,” a spokesperson for Sajwani’s company told CNN, noting that Sajwani was not present for the trial in which he was found guilty.

The Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment on Sajwani’s case. A lawyer who represented the Egyptian government in the settlement, Yas Banifatemi, said DAMAC Properties withdrew the case and paid the cost of the proceedings.

Indonesia

In Indonesia, the Trump Organization has two deals in development with the Jakarta-based MNC group, which is run by billionaire media-magnate Hary Tanoesoedibjo. The business partners are planning to build two resort projects —one in Bali and another in West Java.

Indonesian Hary Tanoesoedibjo, President of MNC Group and CEO, the main sponsor for the Miss World 2013, speaks to journalists during a press conference in Jakarta on September 16, 2013.
ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images
Indonesian Hary Tanoesoedibjo, President of MNC Group and CEO, the main sponsor for the Miss World 2013, speaks to journalists during a press conference in Jakarta on September 16, 2013.

Like Trump, Tanoesoedibjo has jumped into politics, forming his own political party. In an interview with the Financial Times, Tanoesoedibjo said that the politician he admires most is Vladimir Putin, an elected official Trump has praised as a “leader” and someone who is “highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

’Housekeeping’

Trump has already begun to cut ties with some of his international business partners.

Alan Garten, an attorney for the Trump Organization, confirmed to CNN Thursday that Trump has recently terminated his licensing deal for a hotel in Azerbaijan, a country identified by the US government as having a history of human rights abuses and corruption.

Trump’s business partner on the project was billionaire Anar Mammadov, whose father is the country’s transportation minister.

Garten also confirmed additional licensing deals for a Trump-branded hotel as well as five office buildings in Rio de Janeiro have been terminated.

“These deals are terminated under the applicable agreements” in which they were originally licensed under, Garten told CNN.

Garten referred to the recent scrubbing of these three projects from the Trump portfolio as “house cleaning.”

James Jeffrey, a former ambassador and current fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, views Trump’s foreign business deals as a potential liability, especially if Trump does not take steps to draw clear lines between his business and political office before inauguration.

“If you do not divest yourself of all foreign holdings and for that matter domestic holdings, put them in a true blind trust, you open yourself up obviously to these kinds of questions,” Jeffrey, who served as deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, told CNN.

Jeffrey said Trump’s international business experience could help him to navigate some foreign policy issues, but he added that some foreign governments could try to use his business interests as leverage over his decision-making.

“A president can do what he or she wants to do, can have the assets, can have the relationships, and it’s up to the American people, the media, and the Congress in the end to pass judgment,” Jeffrey said.