The U.S. Department of Justice announced near the end of January that it is moving to seize more than $6 million in proceeds from commercial real estate sales. The DOJ claims the properties in question received maintenance and improvements funded by money that was embezzled by the owners of a Ukrainian bank.
Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Boholiubov own PrivatBank, one of the largest banks in the Ukraine. According to the Department of Justice, the two allegedly embezzled and defrauded the bank of billions of dollars through fraudulent loans and credit lines between the years of 2008 and 2016.
They are also accused of hiring two associates operating out of Miami, named Mordechai Korf and Uriel Laber, to launder funds for them.
The scheme was achieved through the creation and use of a web of entities, often using variations of the name “Optima,” including Optima Ventures LLC, Optima 7171 LLC and Optima Stemmons LLC.
Marc Kasowitz, the lawyer representing Korf and Laber, said that they have never engaged in any money laundering of any kind and that they don’t have any knowledge of anyone else laundering either. “Any Allegations against Mr. Korf and Mr. Laber arise from Ukrainian political disputes they have nothing to do with,” he said.
This is the fourth civil forfeiture that the Department of Justice has filed involving companies associated with Kolomoisky and Boholiubov.
The first two civil forfeitures were filed by the Department of Justice in August 2020 against the investors who own a Louisville, KY high-rise called PNC Plaza and a Dallas office park on Forest Lane, apparently worth a combined $70 million. Another, third, suit was filed in December 2020 regarding property in Cleveland, OH, that was said to be involved.
Kolomoisky and Boholiubov also bought two other Dallas buildings known as the Stemmons Towers at 8777 and 8787 North Stemmons Freeway, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in other real estate purchases.
The Forest Lane office park formerly served as the headquarters of Electronic Data Systems, followed by CompuCom Systems Inc. The 20-acre campus has been empty for nearly six years since CompuCom Systems moved out.
The building had been purchased in 2010 by Miami-based investor OPTIMA 7171 LLC, according to tax records. The government says the buildings were purchased “using funds misappropriated from PrivatBank in Ukraine” and are subject to forfeiture “based on violations of federal money laundering statutes.”
The case also alleges that the profits from the sale of the Dallas building on Forest Lane were used by several Optima entities to maintain and improve the Stemmons Towers. The towers were then sold by Optima Stemmons in 2019 under a seller-financing agreement.
More than $6 million in principle and interest is still owed to an Optima Ventures entity called 87STE LLC on the towers. The government is moving to seize the promissory note and the deed of trust agreed upon in their financing.
According to court documents, the government is demanding a jury trial, while the FBI in Cleveland investigates this case further with the support from the FBI’s International Corruption Unit and IRS Criminal Investigation.