Another business owned by embattled Brentwood businessman Ezri Namvar has been forced into bankruptcy.
Namco Financial Exchange Corp., which is named in several lawsuits accusing Namvar of running a Ponzi scheme and stealing money to prop up his failing ventures, was put into involuntary bankruptcy April 2.
Namco Financial creditors Ernesto and Socorro Vasquez, the Crawford Living Trust, and the Paul and Judith Laska Family Trust filed a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court that put the company into Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
The filing said that the creditors are owed $1.78 million in total. Previously the parties filed a Dec. 24 lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Namco Financial alleging that it refused to give back money that was meant to be held in real estate escrow accounts.
The creditors' attorney did not return calls seeking comment.
Namco Financial has 20 days from the day it is served with the bankruptcy petition to file either an opposition to or acknowledgement of bankruptcy. According to a source, Namco Financial hadn't been served as of April 15.
Namvar's attorney, Timothy Neufeld, declined to comment.
Namvar did not return phone calls.
The exchange corporation is the second Namvar entity to enter bankruptcy this month alone. L.A. Hotel Venture LLC, which owns the 469-room Los Angeles Marriott Downtown hotel, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy April 13. Namvar, along with at least one brother and another Namvar family entity, owns the hotel through the limited liability company.
Namvar purchased the aging hotel at 333 S. Figueroa St. for $109 million in 2007. He took out a large loan to buy it from GE Capital, the finance unit of General Electric Co. In a Nov. 13 lawsuit, GE accused Namvar of defaulting on an $86.8 million loan. GE Capital had recently initiated the foreclosure process on the property, according to sources.
Namvar and his main investment company, Namco Capital Group Inc., were forced into bankruptcy in December by a handful of creditors who feared he was disposing of assets to pay back some creditors preferentially. In late January, Namvar and Namco Capital acknowledged they were bankrupt in court documents.
Namco Capital owes over a half-billion dollars to 464 creditors, and it's believed Namvar owes a large amount personally. The 57-year-old businessman financed his Namco Capital investments by gathering money from members of the Persian Jewish community in and around Beverly Hills. His real estate empire, valued at $2.43 billion last summer, collapsed during the real estate bust.
Namco Financial is a so-called qualified intermediary that facilitates the tax-deferred exchange of properties in a type of transaction called a "1031 exchange," which requires investors to park the proceeds from their initial sales with intermediaries until replacement properties can be purchased.
In addition to the Dec. 24 lawsuit, Namvar and Namco Financial are facing at least five other related Superior Court lawsuits and one bankruptcy lawsuit. Those actions generally allege that Namvar stole money from 1031 accounts to pay off his various business debts. The suits claim at least $24.4 million was stolen in total.
While the bankruptcy action puts a stay on lawsuits filed against Namco Financial as well as Namvar given his own bankruptcy plaintiffs can still pursue legal action against other individuals named in the lawsuits. Several of Namvar's relatives, including his brothers and father, are named as defendants in three of the suits.
"It's going to be our position that the case is only stayed as to Namco Financial, but not the individual defendants in our state court suits. We will proceed against the remaining parties," said David Gabor, an attorney representing Sunnylane Partners LLC, which has filed three related lawsuits against Namvar, Namco Financial and other defendants for allegedly stealing about $1.97 million deposited with Namco Financial.
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