REFinBlog

Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

September 21, 2017

Agalarov Oligarchs Sell NYC Real Estate

By David Reiss

By Vugarİbadov - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19869321

Emin Agalorov, son of Aras Agalarov

The Daily News quoted me in Oligarch family in Trump Russia dealings sells $2.8M Manhattan apartment. It opens,

The oligarch tied to President Trump’s dealings in Moscow sold a multimillion-dollar apartment in Midtown as his family’s name began to surface in the Russia investigation.

Irina Agalarova, the wife of Kremlin-connected billionaire Aras Agalarov, closed the sale of her pad on W. 52nd Street at the end of June, according to city property records.

The two-bedroom property fetched more than $2.8 million, up only $300,000 from what the Agalarovs paid for it last February.

It was not immediately clear why the wealthy family, whose patriarch rose from his roots in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to become one of the biggest real estate developers in Russia, chose to sell its Manhattan digs.

The sale, which had not previously been reported, closed roughly 15 months after the apartment was purchased.

Agalarov’s connections to Trump came under scrutiny as part of the probes into alleged Moscow meddling in the 2016 election.

Property documents list the Midtown apartment contract date as May 11, as investigations into possible Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign heated up with the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The family’s connections to Trump go back further, however, to when Emin Agalarov, the pop-star son of Aras, featured Miss Universe in a music video.

That choice that later led to the family bringing Trump and his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013, with the then-reality TV star trotting out his catchphrase, “you’re fired,” in another of Emin’s Europop videos.

Trump and Agalarov also had discussions about creating a Trump Tower Moscow, which never materialized.

While Aras Agalarov had a passing mention in the unverified “dossier” against Trump published in January, his family was brought back into investigators’ orbit after Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, unveiled his list of foreign contacts in late June.

Those contacts included a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on the Clinton campaign that Aras Agalarov had obtained from Moscow’s top prosecutor.

Emails show that Rob Goldstone, the British publicist for Emin Agalarov, told Trump Jr. that the information was part of the Russian government’s “support for Mr. Trump.”

Trump Jr. and others have said that nothing came of the meeting, which also included Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, Kushner, Goldstone, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, a translator and Agalarov employee Ike Kaveladze.

News of the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting sparked interest in the oligarch family’s dealings, including that Aras Agalarov had put his posh home in Bergen County, N.J., up for sale in mid-June.

Real estate website Zillow shows that the listing was removed on July 14, in the aftermath of the Trump Jr. emails.

Scott Balber, a lawyer representing the Agalarovs in the U.S., told the Daily News Wednesday that the timing was not in any way a reaction to swirling investigations in Washington.

“There is absolutely no connection between selling these two properties to anything in the news,” Balber said.

“I can assure you that Mr. Agalarov knows a lot more about real estate investment than you or I do,” he said.

In fact, the Agalarov clan’s properties in New York, which public records show include two other apartments, are just a few tacks on the map of foreign buyers gobbling up Manhattan real estate.

David Reiss, a real estate expert at Brooklyn Law School, told The News the buyers from abroad can have numerous motivations for coming to New York including “getting real estate as an asset class, taking money from their home country and bringing it abroad so it can’t be clawed back by the local government, or to have another home for family members.”

While Balber trumpeted his client’s investment acumen as a reason for the sale, Reiss said that the $300,000 gain may have actually been a loss after other fees are included, raising questions about its use as an investment.

“In the context of the Agalarovs’ portfolio this is probably a very small item so it was unlikely that this was considered a significant investment by the family,” he said.

While Reiss said there are no indications of wrongdoing on the Agalarov’s part, money laundering has become a persistent worry as multimillionaires and billionaires stash possibly ill-begotten cash in Manhattan apartments.

September 21, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments

Thursday’s Advocacy & Think Tank Roundup

By Jamila Moore

  • Jonathan Spader and Shannon Rieger released a research brief entitled, “Patterns and Trends of Residential Integration in  the United States Since 2000,” detailing the trends of U.S. neighborhoods since 2000. To ensure consistency and reliability, the duo defined integration using two definitions. In the end, the pair determined that neighborhoods across America are more integrated today. Specifically, no-majority neighborhoods increased by approximately 2,000 neighborhoods.
  • 143 U.S. consumers are at risk due to the Equifax data breach which exposed consumer’s names, social security numbers, and birth dates. As a result, the New York Attorney Genera, Eric Schneiderman,l launched an investigation of the company’s breach. He wants to ensure that such a catastrophic event does not take place at the other two large credit agencies. Further both, Transunion and Experian must detail their security measures in a letter to the Office of Attorney General so that the state can protect it’s eight million consumers which were affected.

September 21, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments

September 20, 2017

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup

By Jamila Moore

September 20, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments

September 19, 2017

Tuesday’s Regulatory & Legislative Roundup

By Jamila Moore

  • The Senate recently confirmed the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development deputy secretary, Pam Patenaude. Patenaude comes with an extensive background. Most recently, she served as the chairman of J. Ronald Terwillinger Foundation of Housing America’s Families where she furthered her real-estate finance expertise and housing issues. One person notes, Patenaude will aid the nation in ensuring more Americans take advantage of mortgage finance credit which will improve the economy.
  • California’s housing crisis is on it’s way to discovery. Recently, the California State Assembly passed a number of bills to address the state’s affordable housing issues. The set of bills has two other hurdles, the state’s Senate and governor. The bills also include a four billion dollar bond which will be supplemented by a $75 fee when  homeowners refinance their home. Similar plans and programs are also underway to support the financing and sustainability of the program.

September 19, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments

September 18, 2017

Monday’s Adjudication Roundup

By Jamila Moore

  • A mortgage holder of a Palm Beach hotel in Florida, filed a claim against a local Florida attorney for securities fraud surrounding an EB-5 visa program. The attorney claims the mortgage holder failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The dispute involves approximately $50 million.
  • New Jersey will not allow their residents to be defrauded by anyone. A New Jersey attorney received an eight year sentence. A New Jersey court found her guilty for participating in the “fraudulent filing of mortgages worth $873,520” regarding two distinct properties.
  • A mortgage broker duo and their CEO defrauded the government due to their role in filing fraudulent insurance claims. The trio invested in risky loans that did  not pan out. Their original verdict amounted to $93 million; however, the Court increased the penalty to $298 million.

September 18, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments

September 15, 2017

Friday’s Government Reports Roundup

By Jamila Moore

September 15, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments

September 14, 2017

Thursday’s Advocacy & Think Tank Roundup

By Jamila Moore

  • Deutsche Bank is adamant about their role in following all the rules when issuing mortgage bonds. In fact, the mega bank accuses the government of “concocting a baseless theory of fraud.” The bank maintains the government’s claim is meritless, incorrect, and unfair. However, the government believes the bank engaged in a fraudulent scheme during the financial crisis through there mortgage bond procedure.
  • Fannie Mae is continuing their sell of performing loans. Their recent sale garnished many bidders; however, MTGLQ secured the re-performing loans. MTGLQ is a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs and in recent years has bought a number of loans from both government sources and public sources. Their latest buy included $2.43 billion in re-performing loans which totaled approximately 10,000 various loans. Spectators agree, the lucrative subsidiary is buying loans by the “truckload.”

September 14, 2017 | Permalink | No Comments