A prominent New York developer has been arrested on charges linked to a massive fraud scheme

A prominent New York developer has been arrested on charges linked to a massive fraud scheme

A former executive at a prominent New York City development company that collapsed amid a torrent of lawsuits and foreclosures was arrested this week and is expected to be charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme, according to several people familiar with the case. .

The developer, Nir Meir, was taken into custody on Monday at the 1 South Beach Hotel in Miami, and is expected to be extradited to New York City due to charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the sources said.

Several other people and companies were expected to be charged in a series of indictments filed by Attorney General Alvin L. Bragg, as part of a sprawling web of suspected criminal conduct involving Mr. Meir’s former company, HFZ Capital Group.

People working for construction company Omnibuild, which has worked on at least one major project at HFZ, including a director at the company, are expected to be charged, some people familiar with the matter said.

Some of the defendants in the case are scheduled to be tried on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office declined to comment. A representative for Mr. Meir, whose arrest was first reported by Curbed, could not be reached for comment.

Charles E. Klayman, an attorney for HFZ, said the company would not comment until it saw the indictments.

An Omnibuild spokesperson said in a statement that the company and the executives expected to be charged are innocent and are considered victims of HFZ.

“The evidence will show that HFZ stole from Omnibuild as it did from so many others,” spokesman Josh Vlasto said.

HFZ sought to become a major player in the New York City real estate market, building and acquiring thousands of luxury condominium units in Manhattan.

At the company, Meir helped raise millions of dollars from investors, most of whom were wealthy foreigners. She said that by 2019, the company had managed properties worth more than $10 billion.

The company began to unravel after it began developing its most ambitious project, Project XI in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, a pair of twisted glass towers with upscale condominiums and a luxury hotel. HFZ spent $870 million for the development site, and construction began in 2016, led by Omnibuild.

But before its opening, investors and contractors accused HFZ of missing payment deadlines and said it owed them millions of dollars. Omnibuild pulled out of the project in 2020, claiming that HFZ owed the construction company more than $100 million.

One of HFZ’s prominent investors, Yoav Harlap of Israel, sued Mr. Meir in 2021, accusing him of refusing to return a nearly $20 million loan and moving the money in personal accounts to avoid repayment.

Mr. Meir, 49, filed for bankruptcy last week in Florida, where he moved after leaving HFZ in late 2020.

The XI project was foreclosed in 2021, before its completion, and was purchased by other developers, renaming it One High Line. It opened late last year. HFZ lost four other apartment buildings in Manhattan in 2021 as well.

HFZ was founded in 2005 by Zell Feldman, who was not expected to be charged in the scheme, according to people familiar with the case. His wife, Helen Feldman, said on Tuesday that the couple had no comment regarding Meir’s arrest.

In lawsuits against the company, Mr. Feldman claimed that he handed over day-to-day management of HFZ to Mr. Meir and blamed him for misspending its money and causing its downfall.

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