All Year Management Bondholders, Allegations of Misappropriations of Funds

Bondholders accuse Yoel Goldman’s All Year Management of breaching securities law in suit

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.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

 

Advertisements

Yoel Goldman and All Year – Allegations of Securities’ Law Breaches in Israel

Here’s Why Yoel Goldman’s All Year Has Run Into a Buzzsaw on the Israeli Bond Market

 

Why has Yoel Goldman’s All Year Management taken such a beating on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange?

Over the last two months, the largely veiled Brooklyn-based developer has seen the bonds that he issued in Israel downgraded; investors have begun shorting All Year; and the company has come under the spotlight from Israeli regulators.

It all started after the company revealed a $3.7 million error in November 2018, triggering a weeks-long decline in their bonds on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), and heightened scrutiny from investors and regulators. As of last Friday, All Year’s four bond series had fallen between 6 and 23 percent since the beginning of 2019.

In the wake of that revelation more questions were raised, among them All Year’s practice of reporting income from developments that have not been fully leased yet, which have spooked Israeli bondholders, who have bankrolled much of Goldman’s empire, according to discussions with several investors and other stakeholders familiar with the Israeli market.

On Jan. 15, a group of bondholders filed a class-action lawsuit against All Year in a Tel Aviv court, arguing that the company had breached securities laws by failing to disclose certain details about the $3.7 million transfer, and claiming damages of at least NIS $2.5 million, or $680,000, according to the complaint.

All Year’s troubles come amid a tumultuous period on the Tel Aviv bond market that began in November, and all of the American companies who raised money in Israel were affected. Companies like GFI Real Estate, Starwood Capital, Spencer Equity and Delshah Capital have been trading at double-digit yields since December, and an index that tracks primarily American companies on the TASE fell by 3 percent since the beginning of 2019.

“All Year was one of the triggers that sent the market down, because that’s what made people realize that the corporate governance was lacking,” said one finance lawyer who works with foreign bond companies in Israel.

In the beginning….

Four years ago, Goldman, then a rental landlord and budding developer, made his first pitch to the Israeli bond market. He came to the Tel Aviv with a portfolio of mostly Brooklyn rental properties worth roughly $450 million in assets, according to public documents from All Year.

Goldman’s offer was perfectly timed to the height of the real estate frenzy in Brooklyn. Prices in the borough had risen astronomically in a decade and were continuing to climb at an astonishing pace. Everyone wanted to get in on the ‘next Williamsburg’ before it became the ‘new Williamsburg.’

Goldman was well-positioned to capitalize on the market because of his history in the borough, and when the option to issue debt in Israel opened up, he seized it. Since his first bond offer in 2015, Goldman’s All Year has nearly quintupled, with assets totaling $2.2 billion, according to the company’s latest financial statements, and he has become one of the more high-profile developers in Brooklyn. His projects include The William Vale hotel and The Azure at 436 Albee Square, which he developed with partners, 1040 Dean in Crown Heights and a massive, two-phase rental complex in Bushwick named Denizen, at 54 Noll Street and 123 Melrose Street, which is still under development.

A large portion of that development activity is funded by debt raised in Israel. Since 2015, Goldman has raised roughly $650 million in five bond series, issued by a corporate entity called All Year Holdings, which is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and owns a portfolio of over 150 properties. Two of All Year’s bonds are secured by properties in Brooklyn, and all of them are backed by the corporate entity.

“When he came to Israel he was a small player,” one investment executive said about Goldman. “The Israeli bonds made him an empire.”

Then All Year’s uninterrupted gold streak floundered.

Continue reading

199 Lee Avenue? Crooked Landlords, 97 and 99 Clay Street, Forcing Tenants Out

https://wp.me/pZawQ-6xwL

Brooklyn Tenants Take Fight To Secretive Landlords They Claim Are Trying To Force Them Out

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.

0114construction Brooklyn Tenants Take Fight To Secretive Landlords They Claim Are Trying To Force Them Out

“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.

https://securepubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?

iu=%2F4128%2FCBS.NY.MOBILE%2Fgoogleamp&adk=2157398739&sz=300×1&output

=html&impl=ifr&ifi=3&scp=tag%3Dgoogleamp%2Cpost%26title%3Dbrooklyntenants

takefighttosecretivelandlordstheyclaimaretryingtoforcethemout&adf=687001827&n

hd=0&eid=21060933&adx=0&ady=2334&oid=2&adsid=NT&jar=2019-01-15-

20&pucrd=CgwIARAAGAAgACgBOAF4Aw&gdfp_req=1&sfv=1-0-f

23&u_sd=1&is_amp=3&amp_v=1901081935550&d_imp=1&c=36850000461&ga_cid=amp-eEJKGY3hbNqAt6B85R0Jtw&ga_hid=461&dt=1547586210996&biw=1308&bih=928&u_

aw=1920&u_ah=1040&u_cd=24&u_w=1920&u_h=1080&u_tz=-300&u_his=6&vis=1&sc

r_x=0&scr_y=0&bc=7&url=https%3A%2F%2Fnewyork.cbslocal.com%2F2019%2F01%

2F14%2Ftenants-fight-landlords-force-them-

out%2F&loc=https%3A%2F%2Fnewyork.cbslocal.com%2F2019%2F01%2F14%2Ftena

nts-fight-landlors-force-them-

out%2Famp%2F&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fduckduckgo.com%2F&bdt=261&dtd=103&aet

=n&__amp_source_origin=https%3A%2F%2Fnewyork.cbslocal.com

“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.

0114lightsout Brooklyn Tenants Take Fight To Secretive Landlords They Claim Are Trying To Force Them 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.

To visit the full site click here.

Real Estate Billionaires Who Stand to Profit from Amazon HQ Move, NY

960x0.jpg

From left to right: Tom Elghanayan, Fred Elghanayan and Henry Elghanayan. CHESTER HIGGINS JR/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

These New York Real Estate Billionaires Stand To Profit From Amazon’s HQ2

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.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

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.

Jerry Speyer, cofounder and chairman of Tishman Speyer.

Jerry Speyer, cofounder and chairman of Tishman Speyer.GETTY

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.

To read the remainder of the article click here.

Real Estate Firms Buying Elections in New York

Can NY politicians fight Big Real Estate?

In the debate between Cynthia Nixon and Andrew Cuomo last month, the discussion briefly turned to the issue of homelessness. Cuomo touted his career-long dedication to housing, beginning with a nonprofit he founded in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Nixon blamed the state’s housing crisis, in part, on the governor’s close ties with the real estate industry.

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we have one of the largest housing crises that we’ve ever seen in this state when the number one contributor to Andrew Cuomo is the real estate industry and corporate developers,” Nixon said.

In the lead up to Thursday’s primary, candidates for two crucial state offices — governor and attorney general — have taken aim at the real estate industry’s role in politics. Campaign contributions from the industry have loomed large in both races. For instance, Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout has refused donations from corporate developers, and Letitia James refunded a $10,000 campaign contribution from a controversial landlord. In the governor’s race, Nixon has criticized Cuomo’s top donors — which included more than $700,000 from real estate in the first half of 2018 — and called for dramatic housing reform, including universal rent control.

….

 

Money talks

The past three years have thrown the influence of real estate in politics into sharp relief with the conviction of two of the most powerful men in Albany. Earlier this year former State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos were both re-convicted on corruption charges. Both cases involved leveraging relationships with landlords and developers who, at the time, were lobbying the officials on issues important to the real estate industry, like the 421a tax break.

John Kaehny, executive director and a founding board member of good-government group Reinvent Albany, said given that the real estate industry was at the center of both scandals, there should be even more interest in how donations from real estate impacts elections. He said state elections are especially vulnerable because limited liability companies are treated as individuals rather than corporations. Until rules are reformed, real estate will continue to wield considerable sway over statewide elections, he said.

“This is really a basic matter of money versus people,” he said. “The LLC loophole and the fact that it essentially allows unlimited contributions, allows real estate executives to flex their muscles in extraordinary ways.”

LLCs have become a preferred vehicle for bypassing state campaign contribution rules, especially for real estate companies which often create LLCs for each new development. Under state law, individuals can donate up to $44,000 to candidates running for statewide office, while corporations are capped at $5,000. The state legislature has tried on at least three occasions to hold LLCs to the same restrictions as corporations.

“We’ve passed it in the assembly several times, and then, it goes nowhere,” said state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who has endorsed Nixon for governor. “It dies because it fails in the senate.”

As previously reported by The Real Deal, real estate donated more than $733,000 to Cuomo’s re-election campaign in the first half of 2018. His top donor during this timeframe was the Durst Organization, with $75,000 across four LLCs and James L. Nederlander of the Nederlander Organization with $65,000. Cuomo’s favored attorney general candidate, Public Advocate Letitia James, has raised over $280,000 from 80 real estate donors. But she’s also returned donations from certain landlords, including $10,000 from Joel Landau, whose firm Allure Group was at the center of the Rivington House scandal. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney raised at least $433,000 in real estate contributions through the end of August. Teachout has touted the fact that she doesn’t take money from corporate developers and on her campaign website calls for a ramp-up in investigations into illegal tenant harassment, tax fraud and money laundering. She has, however, received $21,000 from multifamily landlord Arthur Cornfeld and L+M Development Partners’ Ron Moelis.

“Why has New York City real estate been able to be so dirty and so cruel for so long? The answer is developer money,” Teachout said during a press conference last month, according to Politico.

Her stance did not go unnoticed by the industry. In late August, Related Companies paid $100,000 to a political action committee that quickly spent the funds on a digital campaign that targeted Teachout, according to a report by Politico.

“The real estate industry is not monolithic. Like journalism and politics, it is not all good, or all bad and not the source of all society’s ills, no matter who says so,” said the Durst Organization’s Jordan Barowitz. “Difficult problems are complicated to solve and require thoughtful collaboration, because of this, scapegoating inevitably solves nothing.”

All politics are local

Continue reading

Tish James and Her Donor Pool – 80,000 Reasons and Counting to Fear Her Election

Real estate and insurance firms tout AG candidate to Jewish voters

Businesses pour $80,000 into a PAC supporting Letitia James

A new business-backed political action committee hopes to convince religious Jews that supporting Letitia James for attorney general is a mitzvah.

A real estate company and an apparent health insurance firm have poured $80,000 into One Voice New York PAC, which has produced an online video ad and a print piece encouraging members of the politically potent bloc to back the city’s public advocate to be the state’s top law-enforcement official. James is among four candidates in Thursday’s Democratic primary.

One Voice New York registered with the state Board of Elections on Sept. 6, the same day that a Twitter account bearing the same name posted a highly charged video in support of James’ candidacy. The spot juxtaposes footage of anti-Semites at last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., with a clip of President Donald Trump referring to “very fine people on both sides” at the event, which resulted in an activist’s death at the hands of a white nationalist. Further remarks by the president, disparaging immigrants, then play over a diverse montage of pained faces, followed by a recording of a man chanting “Jew-S-A” at a 2016 Trump rally.

The ad then cuts to a speech by James in which she vows to “represent the interests of marginalized communities,” superimposed over the Statue of Liberty, smiling children, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Manhattan skyline.

“In Trump’s America, bigots and racists are on the rise. In @TishJames’ New York, they are on the run!” the tweet read.

A source forwarded Crain’s a full-page ad funded by the PAC in Jewish Week. It repeats the tweet and adds, “On Sept. 13, New York Democrats will unite in one voice for Letitia (Tish) James for attorney general; a woman of firm conviction who fights bigotry and hatred wherever it is.”

The Board of Elections filings describe One Voice New York as an independent expenditure unaffiliated with James’ campaign. The disclosures also show that the PAC’s funding comes entirely from two sources. Ben 37 LLC, which state records and addresses indicate is an offshoot of the Queens-based Katz Realty Group, gave One Voice New York $20,000. The other $60,000 came from Diamond Health Associates, based out of 202 Caton Ave., Brooklyn.

Diamond shares this Kensington address with Allstate Administrators, Diamond HR Benefits LLC, Eagle Risk Management LLC, Eagle Risk Services LLC and at least one real estate entity, all of them—as indicated by documentation filed in both New York and Florida—linked to insurance claims adjuster Samuel Schlesinger and his partner, Malkie Mittelman.

Neither Katz Management nor anybody at 202 Caton Ave. responded to a request for comment.

The religious Jewish community often votes as a bloc, and its support has proved important in numerous local and state races. But this Thursday’s primary falls between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, leading several experts Crain’s consulted to predict that its turnout will be relatively low this year.

Cuomo and the state Democratic Party, which have endorsed James, apparently share this concern. The party last week sent a mailer to certain Jewish voters accusing the governor’s Democratic challenger, Cynthia Nixon, of anti-Semitism. The party—but not Cuomo—has since apologized for the literature, which provoked controversy on social media.

It’s not clear why a video portraying Trump in a negative light would resonate with the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which largely voted for Trump in 2016 instead of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, a former New York senator and secretary of state.

To keep reading click, here.

Marc Kasowitz and a Maelstrom over Collusion with Russia – The Leviev Connection and The old NY Times Building

2131

Trump’s Russia lawyer faces conflict-of-interest questions over $296m Kushner deal

The lawyer privately advising Donald Trump on the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is head of a law firm that was involved in the sale of a prestigious piece of New York real estate to Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, in a deal that could fall under the spotlight of the same inquiry.

Marc Kasowitz, a member of the New York bar who has represented Trump in his business dealings for 15 years, was brought on board by the president last month to provide personal legal advice relating to the Russian inquiry now being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. The appointment has placed Kasowitz at the center of the legal maelstrom over the investigation into potential collusion between Russia and elements of Trump’s presidential campaign.

An investigation by the Guardian has found that Kasowitz’s law firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres, legally represented the owners of the former New York Times building in Times Square, Manhattan, in a 2015 deal in which part of the property was sold to Kushner for $296m.

The Washington Post has reported that a subsequent loan of $285m from Deutsche Bank to Kushner Companies, relating to the purchase of the building, could fall under the remit of the Mueller investigation given Deutsche Bank’s scandal-riven reputation. The involvement of Kasowitz’s firm as a key legal player in the initial sale adds a further possible twist as the special counsel’s inquiry gathers momentum.

Questions have already been raised about possible conflicts of interest between the lawyer’s role as Trump’s private attorney in the Russian inquiry and his work for various other clients, among them Russia’s largest bank OJSC Sberbank, which he represents in a corporate dispute lodged in US federal court.

The Guardian asked Kasowitz, via his spokesman, to respond to the potential conflict of interest relating to his firm’s role as attorney on the sale of the Times Square building to Kushner but he did not respond before publication. After publication, the spokesman send in a statement: “There are no conflicts under any standard or by any definition.”

Trump’s connections with Kasowitz’s law firm go much further than just his personal attorney, raising other potential conflict of interest issues. Another of its partners, David Friedman, was appointed by the president as ambassador to Israel; its senior counsel, Joe Lieberman, was considered by Trump as replacement director of the FBI after the president fired James Comey but pulled out of the running, citing potential conflicts of interest with Kasowitz as the president’s private legal counsel; and yet another partner, Edward McNally, is reportedly in the running to replace Preet Bharara as US attorney for the southern district of New York, following a similar Trump sacking.

ProPublica has alleged that Kasowitz himself bragged to friends that he played a role in having Bharara fired, by telling Trump: “This guy is going to get you.” One of the major investigations conducted by the southern district of New York under Bharara was allegedly to look into Deutsche Bank’s involvement in alleged Russian money-laundering.

The Guardian invited Kasowitz to confirm or deny the ProPublica account, but he did not respond.

The old New York Times building is a neo-gothic styled building fronting Times Square, which had been a home to printing presses since the first year of Woodrow Wilson’s presidency. Located at 229 West 43rd Street in Manhattan, the building was declared a New York City designated landmark in 2000.

At the time of the sale to Kushner, the building was owned by Lev Leviev, an Israeli citizen born in the former Soviet Union in what is now Uzbekistan. His company, Africa Israel Investments, bought the Times Square property in 2007 for $525m.

State records show that Africa Israel’s Delaware LLCs, including its subsidiary that bought the former New York Times building, are registered at 40 Wall Street, Trump’s property over the road from the New York Stock Exchange. The office block has “The Trump Building” emblazoned over its entrance in gold capital letters, and was also the home of the now defunct Trump University.

Leviev is one of Israel’s richest businessmen, having made a fortune partly in diamond mining in Africa. He has claimed that he is a “true friend” of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

In a statement to the Guardian, the Leviev Group of Companies said that Leviev had indeed met Putin a few times though only in his capacity as president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former Soviet Union). Leviev “does not have a personal relationship with the Russian premier” and the comment that he was a “true friend” referred to Putin’s help to the “Jewish community in Russia”.

Leviev’s company has had a number of contacts with the Trump family circle that go further than Kushner. Rich Marin, a former chairman and CEO of Africa Israel USA, has told the Guardian that he had a meeting with Trump himself as well as his daughter Ivanka about the possibility of creating a Trump hotel inside the Times Square property.

That deal never materialized, and it was several years later that Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, stepped into the breach. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) show that the sale of the retail portion of 229 West 43rd Street to Kushner was made in an off-market transaction of the sort normally used by owners desiring a quick sale, where speed is more important than price.

Given the lack of competition inherent in such trades, they often give an advantage to the purchaser seeking to acquire property at a bargain.

Kushner acquired the building for $296m from Africa Israel USA and its partner in the deal Five Mile Capital, with Kasowitz’s law firm representing the sellers. The transaction included four storeys of retail space and two sub-basement floors.

The upper 12 floors of the old New York Times building, which are used for offices, were sold to Blackstone in 2011 for $160m. When both sales are put together, Leviev let go of the entire building after owning it for eight years and committing millions of dollars in renovations for a total price that was beneath the $525m he had originally paid for it.

The Guardian contacted Kushner Companies and Five Mile Capital about the sale, but neither commented.

In a statement to the Guardian, the Leviev Group of Companies said: “The Kushner Companies’ offer for the retail space was the most attractive offer ever submitted, and was higher than the building’s appraisal.”

Kushner sealed the refinancing deal with Deutsche Bank and SL Green over his half of the former New York Times building last October, in the dying days of the presidential campaign. The package, reported by Kushner’s own news magazine, Commercial Observer, amounted to $370m – $74m more than Kushner had paid for it.

The president of Kushner Companies, Laurent Morali, told the Washington Post that the discrepancy in price was a result of the “dramatic turnaround” that they had effected in filling up vacant rental units with high-profile outlets. “We had a vision for the property when we purchased it that no one else had, and are proud to say that we executed on it,” he said.

Deutsche Bank is the biggest lender to Trump, having provided $364m in loans. The German bank has been hit by a series of scandals including Russian money laundering, and was ordered earlier this year to pay more than $600m in fines for failing to prevent the secret and improper transfer of more than $10bn out of Russia.

The Guardian revealed in February that Deutsche Bank had itself conducted an investigation of Trump’s personal account to see whether there were any suspicious links to Russian entities.

Senior Democrats in Congress have raised concerns about possible conflicts of interest relating to the Trump administration and the president’s own financial debts to Deutsche Bank. In March, a group of Democrats on the House financial services committee wrote a joint letter saying that such links “raise serious concerns about whether the president and his inner circle will direct the Department [of Justice] to steer clear of issues that could implicate those who benefited from Deutsche Bank’s trading scheme.”

On Tuesday the Guardian reported that a different Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, had approved plans to push poor and jobless people to donate money to his Christian nonprofit, which since 2000 has steered more than $60m to Sekulow, his family and their businesses.

To read the article in its original format please click here.