A group of Russians laundered $230 million from a complicated tax scheme by buying and selling residential and commercial condominiums at luxury Manhattan buildings, including 20 Pine and Yves Chelsea, according to federal prosecutors.
Prevezon Holdings, an entity registered in the Republic of Cypress that listed a Sheepshead Bay address in city property records, stands accused of using fake lawsuits against the Russia-based Hermitage Fund to forge money judgments. While posing as Hermitage officials, members of Prevezon – including corrupt Russian government officials – pretended to claim tax refunds from the judgments, according to the complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The purchases of Manhattan real estate were intended to conceal the scheme, prosecutors claim.
After Denis Katsyv bought Prevezon Holdings in 2008, the funds from the refunds that year “were invested in several New York properties, and it was agreed that Prevezon would manage these assets for five years and then transfer the assets” to a business associate, the complaint states, citing Katsyv earlier this year.
Prevezon Holdings used fake lawsuits against the Russia-based Hermitage Fund to generate fake money judgments, according to the complaint. Members of the organization posed as Hermitage officials and pretended to claim tax refunds from the judgments, the complaint said.
Prevezon could not immediately be reached, and a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said there was no defense counsel yet.
So far, prosecutors have identified six units and have vowed to seize the properties, some of which have already been sold.
The company paid $6.25 million in September for a commercial condo at the Alexander at 250 East 49th Street, an 88-unit, 24-story mixed-use property in Turtle Bay. The previous owner was an LLC listed as 250 East Borrower.
The group also bought a retail condo at Magnum Real Estate Group’s 14-story, 41-unit Yves Chelsea at 166 West 18th Street, also known as 127 Seventh Avenue. Prevezon sold it for $9 million last month after picking it up for $6.5 million in December 2011, StreetEasy shows.
When it came to residential units, the group bought and sold at 20 Pine, a 38-story, 408-unit condo conversion in the Financial District developed by Africa Israel USA.
A two-bedroom condo, which Prevezon bought in November 2009 for $1.2 million, has been in contract for $1.545 million for a week, according to data from StreetEasy. Natalia Dolinsky of A&I Broadway Realty has the listing, which launched in July. She could not be reached for comment.
Last month, Prevezon bought a 1,225-square-foot studio at 20 Pine that was listed for $1.2 million, also by Dolinsky. (A closing price was not available, as the sale is not yet in property records.) The company also grabbed two one-bedroom condos, one for $763,687 in February 2010 and another for $977,520 in March 2011.