A Russian bank board member threw three Manhattan projects into turmoil after disputing the developer, according to a lawsuit.
Sovcombank board member Mikhail Vasilyevich Klyukin wrote to financial institutions, attorneys and lenders in the days leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, claiming Gary Vinbaytel needed to be removed as the developer of the projects, according to Manhattan Supreme Court filings reported by the New York Post.
The projects in question are a six-story condo development at 192 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, a seven-story condo complex at 238 East 3rd Street in the East Village and a five-story commercial building at 128 West 26th Street, also in Chelsea.
D&V Realty and others affected by Klyukin’s letter said in the suit the letter alleged wrongdoing by the developer, but did not provide further specifics. Klyukin allegedly said his own company, Ahimsa, should take control.
The letter proved to be “devastating,” the suit said, as one bank froze the developers’ accounts while a construction loan for the commercial building project was delayed.
The letter “could not have been other than an attempt to ‘blow up’ the projects and the Companies,” the lawsuit argued.
The projects have been thrown into further disarray by the United States’ sanctions against Russia, which included restrictions placed against the bank in February and against Klyukin personally a month later. The two projects Klyukin had a controlling interest in — 192 Eighth Avenue and 238 East 3rd Street — are barred from doing business.
That’s a tough blow, as the two projects were nearing the finish line. At 192 Eighth Avenue, nearly all of the residential units have been sold. At 238 East 3rd Street, a permanent certificate of occupancy was on the table.
These projects may have faced a difficult road after the sanctions anyways, but Klyukin’s alleged actions in the days leading up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine didn’t seem to help matters.
A lawyer for Klyukin has responded to the lawsuit, in part accusing the developer of withdrawing $120,000 from company bank accounts without documentation. A lawyer for D&V told the Post the allegations were baseless.
[NYP] — Holden Walter-Warner