Venture Capital Properties owner sues to dissolve company

Acrimonious battle between two sets of cousins erupts in $10M lawsuit
By Tess Hofmann | March 05, 2015 08:00AM

Brothers Joseph and Daniel Rahmani of Venture Capital Properties are suing their first cousins and partners in the commercial brokerage, claiming that they used the company as their own personal piggy bank and tried to block Joseph from his fair share of funds by firing him.

Defendants Ebi Khalili and Arash “Josh” Rahmani, also brothers, each own a third of the company, as does Joseph, while Daniel worked for them as a broker.

According to the complaint, Khalili fired Joseph and Daniel through an email on Feb. 17.

“I urge you both to not take this as a joke if you come I will have the security escort you out,” the email reads. The next day, the brothers were told that their email accounts would be promptly disabled, they lost access to the company’s client database and their profiles were deleted from the website, according to the complaint. (A review of Venture’s website confirms that Joseph and Daniel are no longer listed.)

Joseph and Daniel state that the firing was the culmination of “years of mistreatment and abuse,” including the conversion of company funds by the cousins for their own side business ventures, as a result of which Joseph was allegedly, at times, left to run the company almost entirely by himself.

Khalili and Josh are also accused of reaping hundreds of thousands — if not millions of dollars — from failing to split commissions with the company.

The plaintiffs are seeking $10 million in damages, for counts ranging from breach of fiduciary duty to slander. Joseph and Daniel further allege that they were exposed to unfair and vitriolic language in front of several other people.

On Jan. 29, the complaint states that “in sum and in substance,” Khalili said, in front of others, “You are thieves; you stole and embezzled money from [the] company and took it for yourself; you made side deals with each other; you stole millions of dollars from the company; you are both fired; get the fuck out of here, don’t ever come back!”

Daniel also claims to be owed $360,000 in unpaid commissions, and Joseph says he is owed $925,000. The cousins are asking to have the company dissolved and are calling for an accounting investigation into the proper damages owed.

Michael Maizes of Maizes & Maizes, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, declined to comment, as did a representative from Venture Capital Properties.

Last month, Daniel brokered Dalan Management and RWN Real Estate Partners’ $47 million acquisition of a ground lease at 230-238 East 44th Street, as The Real Deal reported. Khalili and Josh are principals at Empire Capital Holdings, which owns assets such as 42 Ann Street and 35-37 East Broadway, a former gambling den in Chinatown.

Sitt Asset Management, the family firm led by brothers Ralph, Eddie, Jack and David Sitt, is also in the throes of a bitter feud, as TRD reported.