Taxi King found to have evaded lenders via offshore trusts

Gene Freidman moved more than $60M in real estate overseas, judge rules
January 14, 2016 02:00PM

Things just keep getting worse for Gene the Taxi King.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New York taxi mogul Evgeny “Gene” Freidman illegally transferred more than $60 million in real estate assets into offshore trusts as a means of evading ex-lender Citibank.

The ruling, which cited “numerous and glaring” instances of fraud by Freidman, gives Citibank the power to go after properties that he transferred into trusts located in Belis, Nevis and the Cook Islands last spring.

Freidman claimed he was using the offshore trusts as an estate planning vehicle for his children, but Citibank – which is seeking to collect around $34 million in unpaid loans – countered that Freidman was trying to evade the bank and other creditors, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The bank’s argument was backed by evidence that Freidman began the process of creating the trusts last April, merely one month after Citibank sued the taxi king in state court over his unpaid loans.

A Russian native, Freidman inherited his father’s taxi business in the mid-1990s and grew it into one of New York’s largest fleets – with more than 860 medallions in the New York City region and more than 1,800 taxis nationally. He’s also been an outspoken critic of rival car-hailing service Uber.

Among the mogul’s creditors is Madison Realty Capital, which sought to foreclose on 11 Coney Island properties owned by Freidman, as The Real Deal reported last month. Freidman owns nearly two dozen properties across the city, according to court documents. [WSJ]Rey Mashayekhi