Bank claims Gene Freidman transferred $70 million worth of real estate to hide assets from creditors
Known as the New York City “Taxi King”, Evgeny (Gene) Freidman has been sued by Citibank N.A., claiming that he hid $70 million in real estate properties from them and other creditors while they were attempting to collect on unpaid loans.
In March 2015, Citibank tried to seize approximately 90 of Freidman’s taxi medallions in order to recover just part of the $31 million of debt that has remained unpaid. At that time, Freidman agreed to a confidential agreement with Citibank that pushed off any property seizures until June 2015.
Over the next couple of months, the Taxi King then transferred $70 million of real estate properties into separate offshore trust funds. While he claimed that he transferred this property into trusts as part of estate-planning to help his children, Citibank did not take lightly to the news.
Once Citibank learned of the movement of property, they filed a lawsuit against Freidman in order to stop him from moving any additional assets that the bank could seize to pay against the large amount of debt owed.
“Freidman’s actions epitomize the type of wrongful conduct that this court can, and should, set right,” Citibank officials said.
“The reason we are in this position is simple: We extended loans to Mr. Freidman’s businesses, they defaulted on them, and he has repeatedly refused to make a good-faith effort to work with us to resolve the matter,” Citibank spokesman said.
In response to the suit, Freidman’s lawyers claim that there wasn’t anything secretive or improper about his conduct.
Earlier in the year, a judge declared that Citibank could seize the taxi medallions unless the Taxi King posted a $50 million bond.
In July 2015, Freidman filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for 22 companies that collectively own 46 medallions. “The filing was necessary to protect the medallions and the companies from aggressive litigation pursued by Citibank NA to seize the medallions,” said a statement on behalf of Freidman.
The argument from Freidman is that if Citibank seized the medallions and then sold at a decreased price, it could cause a shift in devaluation of all the taxi medallions – including those not owned by him. He advised that altering the pricing of the historically financially-sound medallions could cause a collapse of the whole taxi industry.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer