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Thursday, December 25, 2008

More on Dreier, Kovachev, Solow, Kalikow

New Defendant in Dreier Scandal May Have Had History With Marc Dreier
Posted by Dan Slater - December 23, 2008

Another shoe has dropped in the case of fallen lawyer Marc Dreier, who’s alleged to have perpetrated a massive fraud against a group of hedge funds. In a criminal complaint, prosecutors are attempting to tie a former broker, Kosta Kovachev, to the fraud. Kovachev was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The complaint alleges, among other things, that Kovachev pretended to be the controller of a realty company to effect a meeting with a hedge fund. (We’ve confirmed that the company was New York-based Solow Realty, though the name is not in the complaint.) Dreier purported to sell promissory notes on behalf of the realty company, but the notes were fictitious, according to the complaint. Federal officials have said that Solow was uninvolved.

Peter Kalikow, March 31, 2005. (AP/Richard Drew)
Dreier and Kovachev have crossed paths before. This 2004 NYT article, which details a legal skirmish between New York real estate competitors Sheldon Solow (owner of Solow Realty) and Peter Kalikow, tells the following story. Kalikow sued Solow, believing he was responsible for newspaper ads listing more than 400 creditors from Kalikow’s personal bankruptcy proceeding in 1991. The ads suggested that Kalikow had misled the bankruptcy court about the extent of his assets. But the bankruptcy had been settled years before, and there were no outstanding creditors.

Real estate mogul Sheldon Solow, Dec. 5, 2007. (AP/Evan Agostini)
A bankruptcy judge agreed that Kalikow had proved that Solow was the man behind the notices. The judge, according to the Times, said that even a man from Mars would conclude that the ads represented “an affront to the court” and a “somewhat sleazy course of conduct.” He ordered Solow to pay Kalikow’s expenses, and, according to the Times, “practically invited him to pursue claims against Mr. Solow’s law firm before ‘professional or legal tribunals that govern professional conduct.’ ”

At that time, Solow’s law firm was Dreier LLP, according to the Times. And here’s where Dreier and Kovachev come in: At the bottom of the ads was the name of a company, Evergence Capital Advisors, and a telephone number, the Times reported. An investigation revealed that Evergence was a dissolved Florida company that had been headed by Kosta Kovachev, but the phone number led to Dreier LLP. The ad reportedly generated 58 phone calls to Dreier’s firm, according to the Times. During a subsequent deposition, Dreier acknowledged that Kovachev was his client and that he had a second client involved in the case, Sheldon Solow, according to the Times. A lawyer for Kalikow, Stanley S. Arkin, criticized what he called Solow’s “irrational animus for [Kalikow],” but he reserved his sharpest jab for Dreier. “He was facilitating an angry and vicious assault on his client’s perceived enemy,” Arkin told the Times. A Solow spokesman declined to comment. Mr. Kovachev, who is expected to appear in court today, could not be reached for comment this morning.

Madoff Litigation Mounts: Largest Feeder Funds (and SEC) Get Sued
Posted by Dan Slater - December 23, 2008

If you put your ear to the ground you can almost hear it. Almost. The trickle of Madoff-related lawsuits is turning into a stream. Among the latest defendants: the two largest institutional investors in the Madoff fund — Tremont Group Holdings Inc., a hedge-fund owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.; and Fairfield Greenwich Group, Walter Noel’s hedge-fund.

Investors Arthur E. Lange and Arthur C. Lange sued Tremont, its parent and its units for investing with Madoff and ignoring numerous “red flags,” according to Bloomberg. The Langes, in a complaint filed today in federal court in Manhattan, seek class-action status on behalf of other investors whom they say lost $3.1 billion. Here’s the Bloomberg report. And here’s another suit, filed by Hagens Berman’s David Nalven, on behalf of Richard Peshkin. Tremont “did not act as a reasonably prudent investor would have,” the complaint says, citing the fund’s decision to put “all of the class’s eggs in one basket.”

Bloomberg’s call to Tremont was not immediately returned. Massachusetts Mutual spokesman Jim Lacey didn’t have an immediate comment. Noel’s Greenwich Sentry fund and Fairfield Sentry fund invested $7.5 billion million with Madoff, jeopardizing investors’ interests while collecting “millions of dollars in fees,” the complaint, filed Dec. 19 in New York State Supreme Court, reportedly says. “FG defendants failed to perform even a minimum level of due diligence regarding the activities of Madoff,” the complaint says. Here’s the Bloomberg report. Noel and other defendants didn’t immediately return Bloomberg’s calls seeking comment. Fairfield Greenwich spokesman Thomas Mulligan declined to comment to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, 61 year-old Phyllis Molchatsky, a New York woman who lost nearly $2 million investing with Madoff, is aiming her ire at the SEC. Molchatsky, reports the WSJ, sued the SEC for $1.7 million, alleging the agency was negligent in failing to detect the alleged fraud . The SEC’s “statutory purpose is to protect the public interest. We feel they fell down on the job in this instance,” said Howard Elisofon, a former SEC enforcement attorney and the lawyer representing Molchatsky. The SEC declined to comment. An administrative claim for relief, notes the Journal, is the first step in filing a lawsuit against the government. If the SEC doesn’t negotiate or respond to the claim within six months, the investor can file a lawsuit in federal court. “It’s an uphill battle to succeed with this,” Gregory Sisk, a law prof at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, told the WSJ. He said courts are reluctant to find that government agencies should act as insurance against any losses.


Anonymous said...

This list is going to get a lot bigger.

Anonymous said...

Proskauer + Solow
Proskauer Rose lawyer delivers for key clients
Real Estate Weekly, Nov 10, 1999 by Lawrence J. LipsonE-mail
Lawrence J. Lipson, one of the most prominent real estate lawyers in Manhattan with 29 years of experience in commercial real estate practice, leads the real estate lawyers at Proskauer Rose LLP. Key players in the Manhattan office market have relied on Lipson and his colleagues at Proskauer to close a variety of substantial transactions during the latest resurgence of real estate activity.

Related Results
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Project Management Standard Program The Proskauer Real Estate Department focuses on all areas of commercial real estate, including acquisitions and dispositions, leasing, senior debt, mezzanine and equity financing, development and management. The Mendik Company., for example, relied on Lipson in the sale of Mendik's portfolio to Vornado Realty Trust, thereby establishing Vornado as the first real estate investment trust owning a substantial portfolio of Manhattan office properties. Lipson and his colleagues have since represented Vornado in its recent purchases of various New York properties, including One Penn Plaza, 770 Broadway, 90 Park Avenue, 150 East 58th Street, 640 Fifth Avenue, 888 Seventh Avenue, 40 Fulton Street and 595 Madison Avenue.

Proskauer's Real Estate Department also participates in substantial leasing transactions. As Vornado's counsel, Proskauer has participated recently in office leases with VNU USA, Inc. and The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Solow Building Company used Lipson and his colleagues for the Nationsbanc Montgomery Securities lease transaction for office space at 9 West 57th Street. Lipson also has substantial experience in focusing on the unique needs of banks and securities firms by virtue of his representation of Bank of America, Credit Agricole, Bear Stearns and Thomas Weisel Partners in leasing transactions.

During the past 18 months Proskauer's Real Estate Department has completed transactions valuing in excess of $7 billion for its clients, including Vornado Realty Trust, Apollo Real Estate, Winthrop Financial Associates, U.S. Realty Advisors, CS First Boston, Hines Interests Limited Partnership, The Solow Organization, Bruce Eichner, Citibank and the Minskoff Organization.

Regarding a very active 1998/99, Lipson notes, "The efforts of our legal team complement the smart and aggressive approach taken by our clients in consummating transactions in the ever increasing competitive real estate market place."

Lipson's vast experience in the public sector underpins his work in real estate projects that involve governmental interests. For example, he was instrumental in drafting the legislative and financing vehicles for the Javits Convention Center. He has also rendered real estate advice for a variety of New York State entities, including New York State Urban Development Corporation, Battery Park City Authority, the 42nd Street Development Corporation, and the Mortgage Loan Enforcement and Administration Corporation. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also relied on Lipson in selling the Vista Hotel.

"I look forward to putting my public-sector experience to work in connection with the proposed sale of the World Trade Center during the coming year," Lipson says.

"The real estate industry has changed dramatically over the years with Wall Street, pension funds, REITs and opportunity funds playing an ever increasing role," says Lipson. "In order to be successful, today's real estate lawyers must recognize the different requirements and needs of the new players in the industry. It is imperative to think outside of the box in order to provide new ideas and structure transactions in the highly competitive real estate market."

Larry Lipson, a lifelong resident of New York City, was recognized by New York Magazine as one of the "Top Lawyers in New York." He is a 1970 graduate, magna cum laude, of Columbia University Law School. He lectures frequently for real estate groups, bar associations and law schools.

A client remarked recently that Lipson is "tireless, self-sacrificing and solution-driven," and that he "gets the job done."

Anonymous said...

Jennifer R. Shufro
Jennifer R. Shufro is an associate in the Corporate and Securities Department at Dreier LLP in the Stamford, Connecticut office.

Ms. Shufro has experience in all areas of business law. Her practice concentrations include contract drafting and negotiation, acquisitions, intellectual property, securities regulation and general corporate practice.

Prior to joining Dreier LLP, Ms. Shufro was an associate in the Corporate Department of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner LLP in Hartford, Connecticut, where she specialized in the area of securities regulation and general corporate law. She was also previously an associate at Wiggin & Dana LLP in New Haven, Connecticut; Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP in Washington, D.C.; and Proskauer Rose LLP in New York.

Ms. Shufro is a member of the Bar of the States of Connecticut, New York and the District of Columbia. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.

She received her J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1989. She received a B.A., summa cum laude, in International Relations and French, from Tufts University in 1986, where she was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Anonymous said...

Dreier Snags Five-Lawyer IP Team
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Dreier recruited a five-lawyer intellectual property group from Greenberg Traurig. Albert L. Jacobs, the former national head of Greenberg's IP practice, Daniel A. Ladow, the former head of Greenberg's New York IP litigation group, and Gerald F. Diebner will become partners at Dreier. Elizabeth S. Lapadula joins as of counsel, and one associate is also making the jump. This team specializes in patent litigation, especially in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical areas. Last year Dreier also added four IP attorneys from Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner.

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