The World Bank is in discussions with Ivanka Trump about establishing a kind of World Bank-managed fund to help women entrepreneurs, according to bank officials.

Discussions are at a very early stage, and almost no details of the plan have been agreed to, said the officials, speaking on the condition that their names would not be used. The fund's name and specific mission had not been chosen, they said, and no money has been raised.

The officials said that if the fund was managed by the World Bank, it would not be in Ivanka Trump's power to direct where its money was spent. She could, however, help solicit donations for it.

Those World Bank statements added detail - though not much clarity - to a report in the online news outlet Axios, which on Wednesday morning had reported that Ivanka Trump "has begun building a massive fund that will benefit female entrepreneurs around the globe." Axios' original report seemed to imply that the fund was Ivanka Trump's idea, and that it might be run by her. "Canadians, Germans and a few Middle Eastern countries have already made quiet commitments, as have several corporations," Axios reported.

Advertisement

That potential setup raised questions about how Ivanka Trump - the president's daughter, now an official White House staffer - would avoid conflicts of interest, if she were soliciting donations for her fund from countries and companies, while still wielding power as "assistant to the president." Federal rules prohibit government employees from using their official position to solicit money for nonprofits or for-profit businesses.

"It would be impossible for her to do this without people seeing it as a way to curry favor with the Trump administration," said Kathleen Clark, a law professor who studies legal ethics at Washington University in St. Louis.

Later in the day, Axios posted an update, citing a White House official, saying that the fund would be run by the World Bank, instead.

The White House has not yet answered questions about this endeavor, sent on Wednesday morning by The Washington Post.

Risa Heller, a personal spokeswoman for Ivanka Trump, referred The Post's questions to the White House.

World Bank officials told The Post that this idea had been under discussion by a group that included Ivanka Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and technical officials within the U.S. government. The officials said that the idea under consideration might be a World Bank "facility," which would be like a fund that could also provide expert technical assistance to the women-owned businesses that its investments help.

Or not.

When asked how long it might be before the details were ironed out, a World Bank spokesman said "a while."

Advertisement

How long is a while?

The spokesman declined to be more specific.