Trouble in Paradise Dan Gertler, Glencore, the DRC and Secret Loans

Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler

Dear Reader:

The Paradise Papers have brought us a wealth of information on some of our most reprehensible of “philanthropic” figures, not the least of which is Dan Gertler. As an ode to Dan, we decided that we would publish his story as the first of the Paradise Papers publications.

It is an remains our position that Gertler  pilfered (raped was the word we initially wanted to use) an entire country out of mining rights to the detriment of the citizens of that country. It is and remains our position that his dealings with high-powered players in the Congo lead to the death of one such player (Katumba) and to the slaughter of people in the region.  

Revealed: Glencore’s secret loan to secure DRC mining rights

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/05/revealed-glencore-secret-loan-drc-mining-rights-paradise-papers

The world’s largest mining company, Glencore, secretly loaned tens of millions of dollars to an Israeli billionaire after it enlisted him to secure a controversial mining agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Paradise Papers reveal.

The documents show in forensic detail how the mining magnate Dan Gertler held Glencore’s imprimatur as key negotiator with DRC authorities.

The Paradise Papers, a leaked cache of documents including more than 6m from within Appleby, one of the world’s leading and most secretive offshore law firms, lay bare the arcane multi-jurisdictional dealings of Glencore, a scandal-plagued Swiss multinational with mining interests across the globe, but particularly in Africa.

The documents confirm that in 2009, Glencore loaned Gertler $45m with the caveat that it would be repayable if agreement with DRC authorities was not reached to secure a mining contract for a company linked to Glencore.

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He is also alleged to be the unnamed “DRC Partner” cited in a 2016 US Department of Justice deferred prosecution agreement who, along with others, paid more than $100m in bribes over a decade to DRC government officials “to obtain special access to and preferential prices for opportunities” in the country’s mining sector for a US hedge fund.

 

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The Paradise Papers confirm that several times over 2008 and 2009, Gertler was called in to negotiate with DRC authorities over the struggling Katanga copper mine in the south-east of the country, which was mired in stalled talks to secure a joint-venture agreement with DRC’s state-run miner Gécamines.

In 2009, Glencore, through a loan offer, took effective control of Katanga, but also kept Gertler’s interest in the company by secretly loaning his company Lora Enterprises $45m in pledged shares for him to take part in the loan. Gertler, known for his close relationship with DRC’s president and key adviser, was also tasked with securing the mining agreement.

“Glencore shall use its vote at the board of Katanga to have Dan Gertler exclusively mandated to assist Katanga in finalising the terms of the joint venture agreement,” the finance document shows.

But the Paradise Papers also reveal that the terms of the loan meant it could be recalled if the mining agreement was not secured. The term sheet states that it will be “immediately repayable on demand” if the agreement “is not finalised within three months”.

 

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Glencore, and its forerunner company, have been accused of sanctions-busting in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, apartheid South Africa and Iran. In 2004, Glencore was cited by the CIA as having paid $3.2m in illegal kickbacks in violation of sanctions to Iraq’s state-run oil monopoly. It has also been accused of environmental pollution, poisoning rivers, and allowing child labour in its African mines. Glencore denies the allegations.

In February, Glencore bought Gertler out of their shared assets in DRC for $534m, a move described by analysts as an attempt by the company to disassociate itself from Gertler.

DRC is ranked by the UN as one of the least developed countries and has been blighted by near-constant civil war for decades. The massive landmass, as large as western Europe, is rich in mineral resources, making it a target for foreign powers and heavily armed rebel groups seeking to control lucrative assets.

The country remains mired in turmoil. Kabila, who took over the role from his father, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, in 2001 after he was assassinated by his bodyguards, refused to hold constitutionally mandated elections last year.

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Their Platinum Wives: Dahlia Kalter – Kalter Gilad Cook Islands Trust, OBH 2308 LLC, RRR

uri-landesman

Please, dear reader read carefully. The irony cannot be lost on you that every penny that disappeared from the various Platinum entities, wound up in the wives’ funds, accounts, trusts, real estate holdings, jewelry foundations etc.

Mark Nordlicht has all but convinced the courts that he is penniless. That’s probably true. But Dahlia Kalter Nordlicht? She has way more than 2 nickles to rub together.

Have you forgotten about the Herbert Stettin case from 2011? Have you not considered the defendants in that case and the connections among them?

See for yourselves: 

https://www.law360.com/articles/268406/rothstein-trustee-goes-after-hedge-fund-heads-for-40m

Fast-forward to 2016 and The Talk of the Sound:

Two New Rochelle Men Among Seven Indicted In A $1 Billion “Ponzi-esque” Investment Fraud

The Wall Street Journal reported that Platinum’s investors were focused in the observant Jewish community. Nordlicht and his wife Dahlia Kalter-Nordlicht are active members of Young Israel of New Rochelle, both are board members of the Westchester Torah Academy located in New Rochelle, NY and endowed The Fred Kahane Technological High School, an Americans for Israel and Torah (AMIT) school in Ashkelon Israel.

Three of those arrested attended Yeshiva University, according to The Commentator, the school’s official student newspaper,  Mark (Meir) Nordlicht graduated from Yeshiva University in 1990 with a bachelor’s in philosophy. Uri Landesman attended Yeshiva University in the 1980s. David Levy graduated from Yeshiva University in 2006.

According to news reports, Mark Nordlicht was considering taking out a second $7.5M mortgage on his home.

As the New York City-based hedge fund began to go under in December 2015, Nordlicht wrote that he was thinking about using $7.5 million from a second mortgage on his home to try to keep it afloat, the papers say. He also was considering fleeing the country, they say.

That property could not have been his primary residence in New Rochelle which is estimated to be worth about $1.5 million and is held in a trust. As Platinum Partners faltered, some time between 2012 and 2016, the property at 245 Trenor Avenue was transferred from Dahlia Kalter, Nordlicht’s wife and a past employee of Platinum Partners, to Kalter Gilad Cook Islands Trust Limited.

The property may have instead been one in Florida owned by OBH 2308 LLC, a limited liability company which owns 10295 Collins Ave Unit 2308 at One Bal Harbour Ritz Carlton. The 5,266 square foot apartment, with 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms overlooking the ocean, is currently listed for sale at $9,995,000, The realtor describes the property as “the largest unit for sale in the building”.

The Principal of OBH 2308 LLC is Dahlia Kalter.

Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo and Mann are charged with securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, securities fraud conspiracy, investment adviser fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy for defrauding investors through, among other things, the overvaluation of their largest assets, the concealment of severe cash flow problems at Platinum’s signature fund, and the preferential payment of redemptions. Nordlicht, Levy, Small and Shulse are charged with securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy for defrauding Black Elk’s independent bondholders through a fraudulent offering document and diverting more than $95 million in proceeds to Platinum by falsely representing in the offering document that Platinum controlled approximately $18 million of the bonds when, in fact, Platinum controlled more than $98 million of the bonds.

Nordlicht, Levy, Landesman, SanFilippo, Mann, Small and Shulse will be arraigned later today before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York. Shulse’s initial appearance for removal proceedings to the Eastern District of New York is scheduled for this afternoon at the United States Courthouse, 515 Rusk Avenue, Houston, Texas.

The charges were announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Philip Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS).

“As alleged, Nordlicht and his cohorts engaged in one of the largest and most brazen investment frauds perpetrated on the investing public, earning Platinum more than $100 million in fees during the charged conspiracy. Platinum Partners purported to be a standard bearer in the hedge fund industry, reporting annual average returns of more than 17 percent since inception in 2003. In reality, their returns were the result of the overvaluation of their largest assets, which eventually led to Nordlicht and his co-conspirators operating Platinum like a Ponzi scheme, where they used loans and new investor funds to pay off existing investors,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “The charges and arrests announced today reflect our steadfast commitment to holding accountable hedge funds on Wall Street who rip off investors for personal gain.”  Mr. Capers thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, New York Regional Office (SEC) for their significant cooperation and assistance during the investigation.

 

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Diamonds and Diamonds and Israel and HAP – Eran Polack

Loose-diamonds

HAP co-founder committed fraud in $10M diamond heist: Israeli court

HAP Investments’ Eran Polack lied about being a victim of a $10 million diamond heist, an Israeli court ruled in September, after more than $5 million of the supposedly stolen inventory was recovered in his possession.

Polack, who co-founded HAP with two partners, was enmeshed in a long-running insurance case in Israel, in which he claimed to have been robbed of $10 million worth of diamonds in his office in Hong Kong in 2010. In September, an Israeli court threw out the claim, finding that more than $5 million of the stolen inventory had been with Polack all along, and that Polack lied about how the robbery went down, if in fact there was one.

“The defendants have successfully proven fraudulent intention,” the judge wrote. “Not only that the plaintiffs gave false testimony, but that they knew it was false, and did so with the intention of unlawfully recouping funds from the defendants on its basis.”

Polack is not facing fraud charges, as this was an insurance case, but the claim was thrown out and Polack is required to pay the insurer’s legal costs and attorney’s fees, in addition to $215,000 in legal fees.

Channel 10 News in Israel reported that Polack resigned from HAP following the ruling, and quoted a statement from the firm that, “Polack requested to leave his position as chairman and CEO soon after the ruling.”

However, in a statement to The Real Deal, a spokesperson for HAP denied that was the case. “Eran Polack was, and is, a founding partner and CEO of HAP Investments LLC and its affiliates in the United States,” the spokesperson said, and added that he intends to appeal the court’s decision.

According to Israeli court documents, Polack traveled to Hong Kong in February 2010 to sell about $10 million worth of diamonds. On the day of the alleged robbery he met with two men, identified only as “Africans,” at his office building in Hong Kong, to discuss the deal, documents show. At the building, Polack claims, the two men attacked him at knife-point and forced him to open his office, then ran off with the diamonds, leaving him bound.

Polack had increased his insurance policy from Menora Insurance days before leaving to Hong Kong in preparation for the deal, the documents show. After the heist, he filed a claim for 1,898 stolen diamonds worth a total of $9.5 million. Menora denied the claim on account of inconsistencies in Polack’s story, and followed up with a complaint accusing him of fraud.

Over the course of the next few years, more than $5 million worth of the stolen inventory was discovered in Polack’s possession, according to the documents. Three of the most valuable gems, worth a combined $2.5 million, had allegedly been bought on consignment in Hong Kong days before the robbery and Polack later tried to sell them. Polack removed another 41 gems from the list early on, deducting their value from his claim, after they too were found in his possession. In both cases, he was caught because he went to get the diamonds certified and reinsured, the documents state.

Polack’s story about the Africans was suspect from the start, according to Menora, who pointed out a list of inconsistencies and abnormalities, like the fact that the office was unfurnished, that he dismissed his secretary early that day and didn’t tell his partner about the meeting. But the key piece of evidence was CCTV footage that contradicted the crux of the story. In elevator security footage that was entered as evidence, Polack is seen taking the keys to his office out of his bag, proving that he allowed the two strangers inside voluntarily without accompaniment, which is not allowed by the policy.

According to the court, the robbery might have happened, only not under the circumstances described. “The motive for telling the wrong story is clear,” the judge wrote, since Polack knew that he hadn’t followed the security procedure and wouldn’t get the insurance money unless he fudged the details. Raising the stakes further was the fact that Polack was a middleman, and not all the stolen diamonds were his.

Dovid Levi, a victim of the theft, told Channel 10 news in Israel that back in 2010, Polack promised to return the money once the insurance paid up. “Then suddenly, I hear he’s running around New York, investing in real estate.”

HAP was founded by Polack, Amir Hasid and Nir Amsel, and they are funded in part by private Israeli investors. They are developing several multifamily buildings in Harlem, including a 20-unit condo building at 329 Pleasant Avenue, designed by Karim Rashid. The firm’s biggest New York City project to date is a $387 million development in Chelsea at 215-227 West 28th Street, where they plan to build a 21-story building with 199 units. HAP is also developing a 42-story mixed-use tower in Jersey City.

See article in its original post, click here.

A Platinum Gilded Friendship – Mark Nordlicht and Rob Astorino going back 2013

Astorino 2013

FRIENDS OF ROB ASTORINO

Dear Reader:

As the current criminal trial against Norman Seabrook and others plays out, our previous statements connecting the dots to Mark Nordlicht, Platinum Partners, Echo Therapeutics, Jona Rechnitz, Africa Israel, Black Elk and the current bankruptcy should become more and more obvious.

Anyone who thinks that each movement of Platinum and its ever Philanthropic Partners are exclusive of one another is simply missing the big picture. If someone would take a diamond in exchange for a wide angle lens, perhaps the creditors of Platinum Partners and Echo Therapeutics, the COBA members defrauded of millions  might actually get justice and some of their money back. There are no coincidences. And we believe, it’s all a diamond in the rough.

Mark Nordlicht knows his way around paying money for what he wants. Let’s not be naive. Neither you nor him were born yesterday.

LM

The Allure Group – $48.4M Refi for Crown Heights Nursing Home

No Mr. Landau – No picture of you here!

rivington house

Firm tied to Rivington House scandal scores $48M refi in Crown Heights

The Allure Group just landed a $48.4 million loan to refinance a Crown Heights nursing home.

Maryland-based Andrews Federal Credit Union provided a new loan of $13.4 million, which is being consolidated with $36 million in previous debt, records filed with the city’s Department of Finance on Thursday show. The remaining principal on the previous loan is $34.9 million.

Allure purchased the facility at 810 St. Marks Avenue — known as the Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — in 2014 for $13 million.

Representatives for Allure declined to comment on the refinancing.

Allure, which is led by Joel Landau and specializes in nursing homes, was at the center of the Rivington House controversy. The company purchased 45 Rivington Street in 2015 for $28 million. After succeeding in getting a deed restriction on the property lifted, the company sold the nursing home to Slate Property Group for a $72 million profit. Last year, the city admitted that it didn’t have a legal case against Allure for flipping the property.

Earlier this month, Allure prevailed over a lawsuit filed by residents of CABS Nursing Home in Bedford-Stuyvesant. CABS filed a lawsuit against Allure last year, claiming the company forced out residents soon after buying the facility in 2015. The lawsuit was dismissed Oct. 4, though the nursing home has filed a notice of appeal.

See THE REAL DEAL.

At Least Wieseltier had the decency to be “Profoundly Sorry” – Offenses Against Women

leon-wieseltier4

Leon Wieseltier Admits ‘Offenses’ Against Female Colleagues as New Magazine Is Killed

 

Leon Wieseltier, a prominent editor at The New Republic for three decades who was preparing to unveil a new magazine next week, apologized on Tuesday for “offenses against some of my colleagues in the past” after several women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate advances.

As those allegations came to light, Laurene Powell Jobs, a leading philanthropist whose for-profit organization, Emerson Collective, was backing Mr. Wieseltier’s endeavor, decided to pull the plug on it.

“Upon receiving information related to past inappropriate workplace conduct, Emerson Collective ended its business relationship with Leon Wieseltier, including a journal planned for publication under his editorial direction,” the organization said in a statement on Tuesday. “The production and distribution of the journal has been suspended.”

A spokesman said Emerson Collective would not elaborate further on the nature or source of the information it had received. But stories about Mr. Wieseltier’s behavior are now surfacing in the aftermath of revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults and harassment of women.

Over the past week, a group of women who once worked at The New Republic had been exchanging emails about their own accounts of Mr. Wieseltier’s behavior in and out of the magazine’s office in Washington, according to one person who has seen the confidential chain and was granted anonymity to describe its contents.

 

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“For my offenses against some of my colleagues in the past I offer a shaken apology and ask for their forgiveness,” he wrote. “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them I will not waste this reckoning.”

See the article in its entirety here.

The Mayor, Astorino, anyone else for sale?

rechnitz

De Blasio donor’s shocking testimony: $100K bought me the mayor

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Rechnitz — appearing in the bribery trial of former city corrections-union chief Norman Seabrook — first dealt with questions about pay-to-play allegationsinvolving him and Mayor de Blasio, the NYPD and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

He said he and businessman pal Jeremy Reichberg targeted the cops in the beginning, doling out gifts and cash in lieu of favors.

Soon, “We had the police going for us — and now it was time to get into politics,” Rechnitz said.

In his first meeting with de Blasio fundraiser Ross Offinger after de Blasio won the Democratic primary in 2013, Rechnitz and his pals — including Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg and Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers — made the rules clear, Rechnitz said.

“We’re going to be significant contributors, but we want access,” Rechnitz, 34, said the group told Offinger. “When we call, we want answers.

“We’re one group, and we expect a lot of access and influence.”

And they got it, Rechnitz said.

De Blasio soon visited Rechnitz at his office and handed the real-estate investor his personal cell-phone number and e-mail address.

“He said, ‘Keep in touch’ and [that] he really appreciated my friendship,” Rechnitz said.

Next thing you know, Rechnitz was talking with the mayor once a week, and Rechnitz was calling Offinger every time he had a problem that needed to be fixed, including a massive water bill for a friend, violations over a renter’s subletting one of his residences on Airbnb and a request to delay his wife’s school’s closing by a month.

Prosecutor Martin Bell asked Rechnitz whether Offinger did “in fact have the sort of pull” that Rechnitz and his friends were expecting in exchange for their contributions.

“Yes,” Rechnitz replied.

Bell asked, “How did you come to realize that?”

Rechnitz said, “Whenever we would call him for access or for a favor, we were getting the response that we expected and the results we were expecting.”

Rechnitz said he secured a spot on de Blasio’s inauguration committee thanks to his efforts to raise $100,000 for his mayoral campaign.

Rechnitz was also offered a spot on the mayor’s transition committee, but he turned it down after de Blasio rejected Reichberg for a vacancy due to diversity issues, he said.

In just one hour of testimony, Rechnitz painted a picture of a city — and beyond — completely ruled by money.

Rechnitz said Astorino gave him and Reichberg positions as police chaplains in exchange for their financial contributions — even though neither of them are rabbis or priests.

This landed them parking placards, among other perks.

Rechnitz also told a story about the time Astorino approached him with a picture of a Rolex watch and asked for helping procuring it.

“I told him I’d be happy to give it to him,” Rechnitz said, prompting Astorino to agree to pay for between $1,000 and $2,000 of the watch, with Rechnitz paying for the rest.

The government witness estimated the watch was worth as much as $10,000.

When it came to the cops, Rechnitz said, he and Reichberg were running the show — doling out gifts and cash to cops in exchange for favors, including ticket-fixing and police escorts to funerals.

He named a slew of cops — everyone from Phil Banks to James Grant to Eric Rodriguez — and talked about the time the cops, together with the Port Authority, shut down large portions of the Lincoln Tunnel so Rechnitz’s boss — an Israeli billionaire known as the “King of Diamonds” — could get to his Manhattan hotel faster.

Mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips denied the felon’s claims.

“These are nothing but re-heated, re-packaged accusations that have been extensively reviewed and passed on by authorities at multiple levels,” Phillips said. “The administration has never and will never make government decisions based on campaign contributions.”

A rep for Astorino called Rechnitz’s testimony “total contrived nonsense.

“Rob Astorino went shopping in the city for a second-hand watch several years ago. Mr. Rechnitz, who was in no trouble at the time, offered to help and took him to a store near his office,” said Astorino’s re-election campaign spokesman, William O’Reilly.

“Mr. Astorino was then offered the used watch for free. Mr. Astorino promptly declined and insisted on paying for it, which he did. He has the credit-card receipt to prove it, which he provided to the authorities prosecuting Mr. Rechnitz.

“Although this transaction occurred almost 18 months ago, Rob Astorino has never been accused of any wrongdoing by any federal or state prosecutor for any reason – he did nothing wrong,” O’Reilly said.

“Furthermore, Mr. Rechnitz never spoke with Rob Astorino about a volunteer chaplaincy for himself or anyone else.

The NYPD declined comment.

Ben Brafman, lawyer for former NYPD Chief of Department Banks, said, “I don’t have any interest in commenting about Mr. Rechnitz, but I do point out that Chief Banks has never been prosecuted for any wrongdoing.”

John Meringolo, lawyer for James Grant, whose own corruption trial is set for April 30, said, “It’s just all made up against Grant, it really is. Grant’s done nothing wrong. After Jona’s testimony today, we’re certainly going to call Mayor de Blasio to testify and prove that Jona’s lying about having the mayor’s office on speed dial. He’s lying about the mayor the same way he’s lying about Grant.”

Andrew Weinstein, lawyer for another officer tainted by Rechnitz, Michael Harrington, added, “Jona Rechnitz’s entire existence is built upon lies and deception. Any suggestion by Mr. Rechnitz that Mike Harrington was in any way complicit in his [Rechnitz’s] life of crime is but one more lie from a pathetic wannabe who is desperate to implicate others in an effort to save his own skin.”

Click here to see the article in the NYPost