A view of Denizen Bushwick at 54 Noll Street (Credit: Denizen Bushwick and Pixabay)
Yoel Goldman’s Israeli bondholders are alleging he misappropriated company funds, which they say caused their bonds to lose value, according to a lawsuit filed in Israel.
The suit accuses Goldman of putting $3.7 million worth of funds that should have gone to his company All Year Management into different company accounts that he controls.
The Israel Securities Agency — Israel’s equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Committee — had required All Year to correct financial statements with the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange earlier this month over this. The firm filed a notice concerning a “material error” in its second and third quarter financial statements linked to $3.7 million that was moved to Goldman’s personal account from the company’s account by mistake.
The value of All Year’s bonds fell sharply after Goldman acknowledged this, according to the lawsuit.
All Year did not respond to requests for comment. Commercial Observer first reported news of the suit.
The company’s bonds were downgraded on the TASE at the end of 2018 following steep declines in their value.
Other American firms have recently had issues on the TASE as well. Allen Gross’ GFI Capital Resources made hundreds of changes to its year-end report from 2017, including dropping its 2015 net operating income from $28 million to $8 million, and Boaz Gilad’s Brookland Capital announced in November that it would not meet its upcoming debt obligations. The firm’s Israeli bondholders moved to appoint someone else to oversee its BVI holding company soon after.
A $20.7 million lawsuit implicates a ring of real estate agents and companies posting multiple listings on sites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.
Most major cities in the US and beyond have grappled in some way with Airbnb’s impact on the housing market—especially as we learn more about how short term rentals can stress the housing market and heavily burden communities of color. But the friction between New York City and Airbnb has been particularly fraught, and is getting worse.
In the past week, the city’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE), which operates under the mayor, announced two nuisance abatement lawsuits against networks of property owners who it says aren’t abiding by city rules, leaving guests in the dark about whom they are renting from.
New York restricts landlords from renting out units for less than 30 days unless the host is also present, a policy meant to protect long-term tenants and housing market prices by keeping more housing options available to actual city residents. Airbnb also has a “One Host, One Home” policy that says each homeowner can only have one listing on the site.
The city sued the Torkian Group, owned by brothers Behrooz and Hersel Torkian, for $1.18 million lawsuit last Wednesday, and identified at least 17 apartment listings now fully used as short-term rentals through Airbnb and Homeaway. Today the city announced another lawsuit for $20.7 million, alleging that a larger network of five or more property owners under the Metropolitan Property Group, a real estate firm, were illegally renting out 130 apartments through Airbnb, according to information sent to Motherboard by the OSE.
“Over and over again, well-meaning visitors are being misled by sophisticated businesspeople into booking illegal rentals,” said Christian Klossner, executive director of the OSE, in an emailed comment.
The lawsuit against the Torkian brothers is rife with alleged fraud and manipulation. According to the OSE, the Torkians allegedly supplied Airbnb guests with fake leases to show authorities who might be checking in on their stay. And there’s also evidence that the operators used fake names to pose as hosts on rental sites like VRBO. (The Torkian Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) The OSE got this data by subpoenaing Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and HomeAway.
Airbnb, meanwhile, maintains that these lawsuits are focused on the bad apples, and that most of the hosts continue to use the site to make ends meet on their personal property, or occasionally share their home with guests, according to a spokesperson for the company. The company has also worked with Brooklyn-based assemblyman Joseph Lentol to try and craft a bill that it says would help make their “One Host, One Home” policy a citywide regulation that could be enforced by the government.
“There’s a lot of hosts using Airbnb to make ends meet and we need legislation to protect them,” Liz DeBold Fusco, Airbnb’s northeast press secretary, told me on the phone. “We haven’t seen the city work with us on this.”
But an understanding with the city may not be on the horizon any time soon, especially when it comes to the topic of sharing data. While Airbnb was required to hand over specific host and rental data in the recent OSE subpoenas, the company also fought back by suing the city when the New York City Council passed a law last summer that required the company to share its data. Airbnb has also said that the OSE is heavily influenced by the hotel industry, which has a vested interest in curbing the Airbnb market. An OSE spokesperson denied this claim.
So what should New York residents and Airbnb take away from these power plays? Murray Cox, who runs the independent investigative site Inside Airbnb told me that both the city and Airbnb’s attempts to curb bad actors fall short of the real problem. “Airbnb is very good at manipulating the narrative,” he said. “Airbnb will hand off the responsibility by saying ‘we need to be properly regulated.’” He said there are currently 13,000 homes being rented out via Airbnb full time in New York City, and only about 7,000 hosts have only one listing, according to publicly available data.
“Well-meaning visitors are being misled by sophisticated businesspeople”
The city’s lawsuit against the Metropolitan Property Group, meanwhile, could prove more complicated. The lawsuit alleges that more than five employees, including CEO Sami Katri, posed as hosts using fake identities, advertised at least 250 listings on Airbnb, and failed to tell thousands guests that their rentals were illegal. The city’s complaint says that this ring of property operators duped guests into believing they were renting individual properties, while in actuality orchestrating multiple sites through their agents.
“The simple truth is when we can see the listing data the way the booking websites see it, we can easily see there’s illegal activity happening and connect the dots to find out who is behind it,” Klossner said.
But a lawyer representing Metropolitan told me that the lawsuit involves misleading data and formerly employed real estate agents who listed homes on Airbnb after they left the company. “The city should have done their due diligence,” said attorney Douglas Tick, who the firm hired on retainer. “They wrongly named agents and probably harmed an innocent company.” He said the company was blindsided by the allegations. (An OSE spokesperson told me that several of the agents mentioned in the report, including Katri, still work at the company.)
Liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is rolling out a new plan that would potentially allow the city government to seize buildings of landlords who force tenants out — a plan his opponents say amounts to “straight communism.”
De Blasio, in his State of the City address on Thursday, announced he wants to take action against landlords who try to force tenants out by making the property unliveable — and pulled out an executive order to create a Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants. He said that in the event the government intervenes, the buildings would then be controlled by a “community nonprofit.”
“When a landlord tries to push out a tenant by making their home unlivable, a team of inspectors and law enforcement agents will be on the ground to stop it in time,” he said, according to the New York Daily News. “If the fines and the penalties don’t cut it, we will seize their buildings and we will put them in the hands of a community nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.”
According to the mayor’s website, the city is “pursuing new local law to seize upwards of 40 of the most distressed multiple dwelling buildings annually and transition them to responsible, mission driven ownership.”
The city reportedly has gone easy on problem landlords in the past. The New York Times reported last year that officials have taken a “gentle hand with landlords who deprive tenants of basic services, declining to enforce the maximum penalties for even the worst offenders,” detailing how “neglected repairs” end up forcing tenants out.
“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it,” de Blasio said in a statement. “While the federal government works to gut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive access to care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay.”
“I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be,” he said. “Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents.”
On Sunday, he said in an interview that he wouldn’t rule out running for president in 2020, and urged the Democratic Party to take “bolder” positions similar to his own.
“There is still a lot of moderate voices in the party that did not learn the lessons of 2016 and are not listening to what people need in this country,” de Blasio said. “So I want to push this whole party, and I want to inform this debate in this country about the fact that we could go a lot further, we could be a lot bolder than what we’re doing now.”
Republicans, though, were disturbed by the extent of Hizzoner’s plan and charged the idea was more suited to communist dictatorships where land and property seizures are commonplace.
“My first reaction was: Is this communist Cuba?” state Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who ran against De Blasio in the 2017 mayoral race, told Fox News. “ I can say that as a daughter of Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1959, this is what happened to her family, she had her home taken, my grandfather had his gas station taken.”
“This is extreme even for Mayor de Blasio, because we know that he has socialist leanings, but this is straight communism and I think it’s very scary to America-loving, democracy-loving people.”
Malliotakis said the proposal was also hypocritical of the mayor, as she says the city runs some of the worst housing via the NYC Housing Authority. She also expressed some doubt as to how his plan to seize property would fare.
“Any attempt to seize property will face a court challenge and the mayor himself comes up with these ideas, throws stuff out there and doesn’t know how he intends to make it happen,” she said. “It’s all rhetoric.”
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An apartment battle in the Brooklyn between rent-stabilized tenants and their landlord is getting heated.
Residents claim they’re being forced out with a construction nightmare and now they’re fighting back.
CBS2 first told you about the tenants at 97 and 99 Clay Street last week. They claim their landlord is using construction to harass them in an effort to drive them from their rent-stabilized apartments.
They add they’ve enduring leaking ceilings, construction debris, and the threat of rats in their building. Now they’re rallying for their rights.
“The owners are sidestepping accountability,” tenant George Manatos said.
The property is run by a company called “Perfect Management,” under LJC Towers LLC, but the address leads to this shipping store filled with non-descript mailboxes.
“You can’t talk to a mailbox, there’s no one to talk to and they don’t want you talking to them, they don’t even want you know who they are,” Williamsburg resident Phil Smrek explained.
Smrek says he endured the same kind of abuse and knows the game landlords play all too well; especially when it comes to construction violations.
“I’ve seen them pay the fines like parking tickets, $5,000, $10,000… when you’re talking about $20 million properties, a $5,000 fine is nothing so there has to be actual prosecution and prison time for these landlords.
CBS2 reached out to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development which investigates tenant harassment. The agency said it rejects “mail drop addresses” like this location.
“Many times they have the buildings listed under DOB with one owner and under HPD with a different owner. They drop letters in their last names, they change their spelling, it’s very shrouded, they’re under LLC’s.
CBS2 checked the address for LJC Towers LLC on the HPD website; it’s not at Lee Avenue where they claim, but a building on Manhattan Avenue that says Perfect Management on the door.
CBS2’s Valerie Castro rang their buzzer to ask some questions, but while she was waiting they turned the lights out.
Then, despite seeing someone just inside the doorway, CBS2 was ignored by the building’s occupants.
A representative from state senator Julia Salazar’s office says it’ll likely take legislative action for things to change.
“We’re going to work on it, this is definitely something we’re focused on,” Alvin Pena claimed.
For now, tenants say they’ll keep fighting for their rights in Williamsburg.
As part of an effort to crackdown on Airbnb, the city is now taking aim at the Torkian Group, claiming the landlord has continued to market and lease illegal short-term rentals despite previous warnings from officials.
In a new lawsuit, the De Blasio administration claims there were 1,029 short-term rental deals in the landlord’s buildings between February 2015 and October 2018. The transactions involved 13 different apartments in 110 Greenwich Street, 311 West 50th Street and 488 Seventh Avenue, which generated more than $1.1 million in revenue, according to the complaint filed in New York Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The city alleges that the landlord had at least 44 illegal listings during that period, most of which appeared on Airbnb, though a handful were also on HomeAway and TripAdvisor. In New York, the vast majority of landlords are prohibited from renting apartments for less than 30 days in homes where the host is not present.
According to the lawsuit, from 2015 to September 2018. the city filed 23 violations and imposed $64,800 in fines against the landlord for doing just that. Though Torkian filed certifications of correction, the landlord has “shown they will not stop the illegal transient occupancy unless ordered to do so by the court,” the complaint alleges.
Representatives for the landlord did not return multiple requests seeking comment.
The lawsuit also names Bedrose — a brokerage and property manager that specializes in short-term rentals — as a defendant, alleging the company illegally advertised short-term rentals at the Torkian buildings as well as at approximately 19 other buildings.
According to the complaint, Bedrose hid its illegal short-term rental business in various ways, including using fake host names on Airbnb and changing the addresses of the buildings slightly. The company also allegedly instructed guests to sign fake leases and instructed them to lie to city officials if questioned about the terms of their stay at the apartments.
David Tordjman, executive vice president of Norman Bobrow & Co. and a broker with Bedrose who is named as a defendant of the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.
To read the remainder of the article in its entirety click here.
Amid the news about Amazon’s HQ2 announcement—the e-commerce giant chose New York’s Long Island City and northern Virginia’s Crystal City as the victors of its nationwide search—there’s the question of who in the real estate world is jumping for joy at the new opportunities. That likely includes a trio of low-profile billionaire brothers and real estate titan Jerry Speyer.
The Elghanayan family, which was worth more than $2 billion in 2015 when Forbes last estimated their fortune, traces their wealth back to Nourollah Elghanayan, an Iranian-native who started buying land in Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s. His three sons, Tom, Fred and Henry, expanded the family business throughout Manhattan and Queens, acquiring and developing iconic buildings such as FBI’s former New York City headquarters and the Carnegie Hall Tower. In 2009, the family split up their holdings amid disagreements over succession plans. Henry reportedly won a coin toss and chose the Rockrose name and a portfolio of development sites and residential buildings; Tom and Fred took the rest, including more than 5,000 apartment units and properties in Long Island City, and rolled them into an entity called TF Cornerstone.
Since then, Tom and Fred Elghanayan have capitalized on New York’s up-and-coming neighborhoods, building gleaming luxury rental apartment towers in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and in downtown Brooklyn. But it’s their bet in Long Island City that may prove to be the most prescient. In addition to two rental apartment towers the Elghanayans transferred to TF Cornerstone, the brothers have purchased or built four more rental buildings in the past six years, giving them over 3,000 rental units in Long Island City’s waterfront community of Queens West.
In July 2017, TF Cornerstone furthered its move into Long Island City, winning a proposal to redevelop two city-owned sites in Anable Basin, a waterfront district neighboring Queens West. Its winning bid calls for a 1.5 million square feet mixed-use project with 1,000 rental units, commercial, retail and light industrial spaces, and public park areas. Just months later, Plaxall—another family firm that manages over one million square feet of real estate—submitted plans to rezone nearly 15 acres of the Anable Basin into a mixed-use development spanning almost 6 million square feet.
Now the sketches of glass towers and open air parks have been fast tracked to reality as Amazon sets its sights on the Anable Basin. According to the Seattle company’s memorandum of understanding with New York, it has circled the Anable Basin area as its target site for HQ2. TF Cornerstone confirmed that it will partner with Amazon to build out its project. “As a family-owned company founded by Queens natives, TF Cornerstone is proud to welcome Amazon to Long Island City, bringing new jobs to the borough and preserving significant public benefits,” says Jake Elghanayan, a principal at TF Cornerstone and a son of Tom Elghanayan.
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With Amazon planning to take up 4 million square feet of office space over the next decade (and bringing on 25,000 workers), the Elghanayans are in prime position to take advantage of the increasing demand for office real estate and new apartments. With excitement already building in Long Island City, Tom and Fred’s fortune looks to be getting a boost in the near future.
But Henry Elghanayan, who runs his own firm Rockrose Development Corp., didn’t make out so badly either. The former lawyer, whose collection of development sites included several in Long Island City, erected his own luxury rentals near the One Court Square area, constructing nearly 2,500 units across three towers in the past six years. With another building due to open in 2019, and an older waterfront property that Henry received when the brothers split up, his Rockrose will be a major landlord in Long Island City with nearly 3,000 rental apartments.
Another big winner in Amazon’s decision is real estate firm Tishman Speyer’s billionaire chairman Jerry Speyer. Speyer started the real estate giant, which has developed over 167 million square feet of space from Chicago to Berlin, in 1978 with his father-in-law Robert Tishman. Son Rob Speyer is now CEO and oversees the company’s operations. While famous for redeveloping iconic skyscrapers like Manhattan’s Chrysler building and Rockefeller Center, Tishman Speyer has also become a major player in the transformation of Long Island City. The firm claims to be the area’s most prolific residential and office developer and says it will have completed construction on 3.7 million square feet in the neighborhood by end of next year.
A decade ago, the New York firm broke ground on Two Gotham Center, a 22-story office tower just a 20-minutes stroll from Anable Basin. Tishman Speyer sold the completed building to Canadian firm H&R REIT in 2011 but continued on, partnering with H&R and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund to develop two office and retail towers named the JACX, and three rental apartment towers named Jackson Park.
We ask that you watch the video as linked above carefully. It can be found on the page covering the related article on THE DAILY NEWS.
Our sources have told us that it is not uncommon for Hispanic and other non-ultra-Orthodox community members to be “roughed up” by members of the ultra-Orthodox community and by members of the Shomrim (or neighborhood watch). We have been told that the non-ultra-Orthodox victims of these crimes rarely say anything at all for fear that anything they say will be deemed “hate speech” thereby paving the way for the involvement of the Hate Crimes Unit.
Self-defense should not be deemed a hate crime.
Our sources have stated that it is particularly colorful when these incidents occur in the 66th Precinct, with specific implications that precinct members are permitted to moonlight after work and moonlighting for the ultra-Orthodox community can be very lucrative.
We suppose it might also help with anger management at the end of a rough day…
We have been told that there are likely many more similar videos like the one above that either have not been exposed, are “lost,” “hidden,” or “missing.” The stories we are receiving are similar to tales of protection money and gang violence, though more common in the setting of “collections.”
It might be time for law enforcement to start paying attention to what is going on within the ultra-Orthodox communities. There are CCTV cameras everywhere in that community. If you are not finding one, or if the video happens to be missing or shut off, there is something very wrong.
The members of the ultra-Orthodox community are not generally sloppy. If there is no footage it is because someone did not want there to be footage.
Hispanic man allegedly roughed up in his doorway by Jewish neighborhood security patrol raises questions about group’s tactics
An accusation that a Brooklyn man yelled “Kill all the Jews” sparked a wild confrontation that led to an arrest that was later voided — and raised questions about members of a neighborhood patrol who allegedly pulled the man from his home and roughed him up.
The confrontation, captured on video obtained by the Daily News, happened just past midnight last Thursday. The footage shows a 26-year-old Hispanic man getting accosted at the doorway to his home — on 42nd St., in the heart of Orthodox Borough Park — by two other men believed to be from Shmira, a neighborhood patrol group, a source said.
Shmira denied being involved in the confrontation, saying it showed up on the scene after the Hispanic man was involved in the altercation at his front door.
“We absolutely didn’t do anything wrong,” said Levi Leifer, the director of Shmira of Borough Park.
Police said the incident started when the Hispanic man and an Orthodox man argued about a blocked car. At some point, police said, the Hispanic man tried to get into his home.
But video taken from across the street showed the Hispanic man being followed up the stairs by another man, then pushing back as the man appeared to be keeping him from getting inside. Eventually, a third man joins in as the Hispanic man is pulled back outside and roughed up.
The video ends with a van pulling up in front of the house and several men piling out of it, as one of the men involved in the confrontation at the doorway motions towards it.
Police said the Orthodox man involved in the argument about the blocked car called Shmira and reported that the Hispanic man yelled “Kill all the Jews” and punched him. The same allegation was made to police.
The source said other video shows the Hispanic man crossing the street, then arguing with two Orthodox men who accused him of breaking into cars.
“Kill Jews,” they later accused the Hispanic man of saying. The Hispanic man, who could not be reached for comment, at some point was able to call police, the source said.
Neighbors told The News varying accounts, including that the Hispanic man mentioned he wanted to kill Jews.
The Hispanic man was arrested based on the account of the first Orthodox man he argued with. He was taken to the 66th Precinct and the Hate Crime Unit was called in to investigate. After video was located the Hispanic man was released.
Police wouldn’t say what led to the decision not to charge the men seen roughing up the Hispanic man, though Leifer said Shmira has given the NYPD a roster of all its members.
A law enforcement source said the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office is considering assault charges in the case.