CHICAGO (CN) - One of Antoin Rezko's former business partners claims Rezko conspired to sell a 62-acre parcel of land in Chicago's rapidly developing South Loop neighborhood to a Luxembourg-based real estate group, instead of paying his debts.
In 2011, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, an influential Syrian-American political fundraiser, was convicted of running a pay-to-play influence scheme that demanded kickbacks from companies seeking government contracts. He was sentenced to 10½ years in federal prison.
Semir Sirazi and his companies Greenstone Capital and Mardini Inc. sued General Mediterranean Holdings, Orifarm, and Nadmi Auchi in Federal Court.
The complaint refers to the defendants as "the GMH defendants." It concerns events that happened before Rezko was convicted.
Sirazi claims that from 2006 to 2008 the defendants made "efforts to leapfrog the Sirazi plaintiffs, superior creditors of Antoin S. Rezko, by secretly obtaining Rezko's ownership interests in a 62-acre parcel in Chicago's South Loop co-owned with the GMH defendants in exchange for forgiving Rezko's debts to them and providing Rezko with access to millions of dollars in new capital."
Auchi, the Anglo-Iraqi founder and chairman of GMH, was convicted in absentia of fraud in France, and is not allowed to enter the United States, according to the complaint.
Sirazi claims that a 2006 settlement agreement requires Rezko to use the 62-acre parcel "to generate capital with which to repay debt guaranteed by the Sirazi plaintiffs."
Instead, he says, the GMH defendants "secretly acquired Rezko's ownership interests in exchange for over $26 million of debt forgiveness and over $7 million of new capital."
Sirazi claims that GMH and Rezko conspired "to deceive the Sirazi plaintiffs into believing that Rezko continued to maintain his ownership interests and that no proceeds were generated."
He says, "these actions were undertaken for the explicit purpose of making the Sirazi plaintiffs believe, incorrectly, that their status as superior creditors was safe, so that they would forebear on collection efforts and other affirmative steps to ensure that Rezko's ownership interests would be used for their benefit."
Sirazi previously suedfriends and business partners of Rezko, claiming they conspired to hide the sale of Panda Express Chicago from Sirazi and other investors.
Sirazi seeks damages for tortious interference, aiding and abetting fraud, conspiracy, and unjust enrichment. He also seeks an accounting and an injunction requiring the GMH defendants to notify him before they sell the 62-acre parcel.
Without injunctive relief, Sirazi says, "since the GMH defendants are foreign companies, it is likely that once they have sold the parcel they will transfer all of their assets overseas."
Sirazi and his companies are represented by Gregory Scandaglia with Scandaglia & Ryan.
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