Masoud Shojaee and his daughters locked in dispute over rock mining rent money

Suit accuses the developer of using revenue from a rock mining leasing firm to pay for his lavish personal lifestyle

Masoud Shojaee
Masoud Shojaee

Father’s Day could be awkward for Masoud Shojaee, as he finds himself in a legal tussle with a trust benefiting his daughters.

M&M Life Insurance Trust is suing the Coral Gables-based developer over a lucrative family business that leases land in the western fringes of Miami-Dade County to rock miners and farmers, according to a recently filed lawsuit in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

M&M, whose beneficiaries are Lilibet and Anelise Shojaee, owns a 75 percent controlling interest in Santa Fe Haciendas, the rock mining land rental company, according to the complaint. Masoud Shojaee is Santa Fe’s managing director.

The suit alleges he has been secretly siphoning the firm’s available cash to pay and support his lavish personal lifestyle since 2015. Shojaee allegedly made cash withdrawals through March 2020 for more than $7 million, according to the complaint.

Shojaee responded through his attorney, Jose Ferrer. “Mr. Shojaee is saddened by the fact that a personal family matter has come to this stage,” Ferrer said. “With that said, the claims have no legal merit and will be vigorously defended in court.”

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Gonzalo Dorta, M&M’s lawyer, did not respond to two email messages seeking comment.

Shojaee, chairman and president of Shoma Group, is one of the most prolific builders in Miami-Dade County. A partnership between Shoma, the Related Group and PGIM Real Estate Investors in late March sold the Flats Apartments at CityPlace Doral for $100 million, the largest South Florida deal to close during the coronavirus pandemic. Shoma also secured a $17.6 million construction loan last month for the company’s Ten30 South Beach boutique condo project.

According to M&M’s lawsuit, its trustee Anibel Duarte-Viera became suspicious of certain entries in a 2018 prepared tax return for the trust that was presented to him by an unnamed individual at Shojaee’s direction. Specifically, Duarte-Viera noticed financial irregularities involving Shojaee exploiting Santa Fe’s cash accounts, the complaint states.

When Duarte-Viera requested source documents to analyze the cash transactions for 2018, the tax return preparer instead provided him with an “unusually suspicious” promissory note and revolving credit line agreement prepared in 2019 with an effective date of 2015, M&M alleges.

In its lawsuit, M&M asserts that it was unaware Shojaee was making cash withdrawals from Santa Fe’s accounts and alleges that he used the funds for personal purposes that were completely unrelated to the rock mining rental company.