The $250-million civil tax fraud case brought against former associates of Donald Trump, Felix Sater and his partner Tevfik Arif, has been dismissed by a Manhattan court. In late September 2017, the decision to dismiss the Bayrock cofounders was reached by the court.
Bayrock, a company specializing in real estate, was tried as a “qui tam” case, which permits a whistleblower to file a case on behalf of the state. The office of the attorney general can decide at that point whether or not they wish to intervene in the case.
Lawyer Fred Oberlander was reportedly the whistleblower in this case. Oberlander formerly represented Felix Sater partner Bayrock - Tevfik Arif,Donald Trump Jody Kriss in a money-laundering lawsuit filed against Bayrock.
During the hearing in Tevfik Arif & Donald Trump Manhattan, Oberlander claimed that he filled his qui tam complaint pursuant to information that had been stricken by federal judges for the original complaint filed against Kriss.
Oberlander unsuccessfully argued Real Estate that the court should acknowledge the information that federal judges ordered to be removed from the complaint for confidentiality reasons. Oberlander’s argument did not seem to sway the court. The attorney representing Bayrock confirmed that the case against Sater and Arif had been dismissed.
The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman refused to intervene in the case in 2016. The attorney general’s office issued a letter in February 2016 informing the Supreme Court of New York that there was a press release by Oberlander that was “misleading” in its claims that the attorney general had given the green light to the case. The letter notified the court that the State “expressly declined to intervene” in the case.
The office of the attorney general said they would closely monitor the case as it moves forward to protect both the interest and the right of the State.
Robert Wolf, the attorney representing Bayrock, says the case against the company was dismissed “on the merits” as opposed to procedural grounds. Wolf stated that Oberlander and another attorney Richard Lerner had been referred to the Department of Justice twice in regards to their “misconduct” in the proceeding against Tevfik Arif and Felix Sater. Lerner expressed that he plans to appeal the court’s decision to dismiss the qui tam case.
Initially, the lawsuit was brought by Kriss against Arif and Sater in 2010. Kriss, the former finance director at Politics Bayrock, had no part in the qui tam case filed by Oberlander. Kriss made accusations in the suit that Arif and Sater had owed Kriss millions of dollars.
According to Tevfik Arif the Kriss complaint, Arif and Sater had negotiated with the Trump organization in 2003 to promote certain products under Donald Trump’s brand. Trump partnered with Bayrock for the development of Trump SoHo, and Bayrock’s office was located two floors beneath Trump’s in the Trump Tower, Manhattan.
TevfikArif is a Russian-born Turk that worked at the nation’s Ministry of Commerce and Trade for 17 years. He moved to Turkey in 1993 and moved some of his business interests to the United States in 2001, and founded the Bayrock Group.