On trips like these, Secret Service agents were there to protect Trump’s children. But, for the Trump family business, their visits also brought a hidden side benefit.

That’s because when Trump’s adult children visited Trump properties, Trump’s company charged the Secret Service for agents to come along. The president’s company billed the U.S. government hundreds, or thousands, of dollars for rooms agents used on each trip, as the agency sometimes booked multiple rooms or a multiroom rental cottage on the property

In this way, Trump’s adult children and their families have caused the U.S. government to spend at least $238,000 at Trump properties so far, according to Secret Service records obtained by The Washington Post.

Government ethics experts say that nothing is wrong with Trump’s children seeking protection from the Secret Service.

But, they said, the Trump Organization’s decision to charge for the agents’ rooms created a situation in which — just by traveling — Trump’s children could bring taxpayer money to their family’s business.

That, ethics experts said, could create the appearance that Trump family members were exploiting their publicly funded protection for private financial gain.

“Morally speaking, do they want to profit [from the fact] that their father’s in the White House?” said Scott Amey, of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight. “They could very easily reimburse those expenses, so the federal government and the taxpayer are not on the hook for that tab.”

The Secret Service and the White House declined to comment for this article, as did Ivanka Trump — the president’s eldest daughter, who left the Trump Organization to work in government. The president’s other adult children — Eric, Donald Jr. and Tiffany — did not respond to requests for comment.

Eric Trump and Donald Jr. are said to run the Trump Organization day

O’Brien and a friend, Paul Paglia, spent weeks presenting some pretty sound logic to Audi: He no longer needed the prepaid maintenance because the car he bought in January had been destroyed and sold for junk.

“It was to cover the first two appointments for maintenance, which were never used,” Paglia said. “The car had never been at the dealer for service before it was totaled.”

O’Brien had purchased the bright blue 2015 Audi A3, with 55,800 miles on it, at Audi Natick. The car, which O’Brien said he loved, had cost about $17,000. The sales staff separately sold him an Audi service plan, known as Audi Care, which is created and controlled by AudiUSA, the national corporation (not the dealership).

I’m not sure why anyone would pay upfront for future maintenance. I think it’s always advisable to hold your money until you absolutely must part with it. You don’t know what may occur between the time you pay for something and when you expect to receive it — like getting into an accident that totals your car.

And asking for the return of your money is never a good position to be in.

On its website, AudiUSA says its service plan saves money, based on a comparison of its prices and those of local dealerships, although “actual savings will vary.” It also touts the program as a hedge against inflation (though inflation is at a historically low 1.3 percent).

To me, AudiUSA’s pitch doesn’t make a convincing case for paying $799 in advance, just to wheel your Audi into the service department for oil changes, tune-ups, and inspections without (further) opening your wallet.

But to O’Brien, excited about the beautiful vehicle he was about to drive off the lot, the Audi service plan “seemed like a genuine, reasonable offer,”

Orlando Sentinel readers called into the Ask an Expert hotline last week seeking free advice from certified financial planners about retirement, investing and other money matters.


Load Error

The event, held Oct. 4 this year, is sponsored annually by the Financial Planning Association of Central Florida and the Orlando Sentinel. Look for the Ask an Expert feature each Monday on the Sentinel’s Central Florida Business page.

Here is a sampling of questions and answers from the hotline.

Q: When COVID-19 hit, I quit my job working in the schools since I have pre-existing conditions. I only have $16,000 in savings and receive $1,200 a month in Social Security benefits. My expenses are between $3,300-$3,600 a month, including a mortgage payment of about $1,200. I also lease my car at $400 a month. What advice would you give me to help get closer to actually retiring? — N.W., Clermont

A: First, I would consider downsizing your home, so you have a lower monthly mortgage payment or pay even less by renting. Consider getting rid of the leased car and look for a lower-cost vehicle. Look for a job where you can work from home, so you don’t have to put yourself at risk and can earn some extra income. It will be tough, but go over every item in your budget and see what is essential, what can be cut, and where you can save. — Marisa Bradbury, Sigma Investment Counselors, (888) 718-1132

Q: I have two cemetery plots in another state purchased many years ago. I will not need them. Can I give these to the church and receive a charitable deduction? — J.M., Winter Garden

A: Yes, but the effort involved may be more than you’re expecting. If the plots are selling for more than $5,000 you will have

By Daniel Leussink and Leika Kihara

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s service sector sentiment rose in September to the highest level in 2-1/2 years, government data showed on Thursday, suggesting that the economy is gradually recovering from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey of workers such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant staff – called “economy watchers” for their proximity to consumer and retail trends – showed their confidence about current economic conditions grew 5.4 points from August to 49.3 in September.

It was the highest level since April 2018 and the fifth straight month of increase, boding well for the government’s efforts to prevent a pandemic-driven recession from deepening.

“While conditions remain severe due to the pandemic’s fallout, sentiment is improving,” the government said on the survey. “While there are concerns over the pandemic, sentiment is likely to continue recovering,” it said.

A separate private survey showed the flood of money pumped out by the government and central bank is keeping companies afloat for now, despite the hit to sales from the pandemic.

The number of corporate bankruptcies totalled 3,956 cases in the first half of the fiscal year that began in April, down 5.2% from the same period last year and the lowest level in nearly 16 years, private think-tank Teikoku Databank said on Thursday.

Total liabilities for firms that went under stood at 601.25 billion yen ($5.67 billion), the second-lowest level on record, the report from Teikoku Databank showed.

The Bank of Japan has ramped up stimulus twice so far this year and created a lending facility to channel funds via banks to cash-strapped smaller firms.

The government also deployed two massive spending packages, and offered cheap loans backed by state-affiliated lenders to help companies weather the hit from the health crisis.

Japan suffered

Video: Welfare recipients eligible for two cash payments of $250 (ABC NEWS)

Welfare recipients eligible for two cash payments of $250



By Paulina Duran

a sign in front of a tall building in a city: FILE PHOTO: The logo of the National Australia Bank is displayed outside their headquarters building in central Sydney

© Reuters/DAVID GRAY
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the National Australia Bank is displayed outside their headquarters building in central Sydney

SYDNEY (Reuters) – National Australia Bank , the country’s third largest lender, has admitted to misleading customers more than a thousand times in a lawsuit accusing its financial planners of charging fees for no service, according to court documents.

According to an Oct. 2 document on agreed statements of facts and admissions filed with the Federal Court, the bank admitted to some but not all of the accusations levelled at it by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).


Load Error

NAB clients received written statements that contained service representations that were “misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive” on 1,485 occasions, the document said.

On another 225 occasions, the bank failed to provide clients with fee disclosure statements in a timely manner as required by law, it also said.

In December 2019, the regulator accused NAB of 8,927 cases of fees for no service and 3,420 instances of unconscionable conduct. ASIC said the fees were even charged to customers during 2018 Royal Commission hearings into misconduct in the financial sector, at which the bank’s executives defended the practice.

The bank declined to comment on the case – the second ‘fees for no service’ case brought against it by ASIC. Last month, Australia’s federal court fined pension funds run by NAB A$57.5 million ($41 million) for charging fees with no service to thousands of retirees.

The bank began implementing a program in December 2018 to refund financial planning clients who had paid fees but not received the required