Facing mounting community criticism for his alleged involvement in what has been called a Ponzi scheme, Ezri Namvar, an Iranian-Jewish philanthropist and businessman, last month voluntarily resigned from the Board of Trustees for the Beverly Hills-based Nessah Synagogue. Namvar sent an e-mail on March 16 to Nessah’s board members, notifying the organization of his immediate resignation. Namvar was forced into involuntary bankruptcy in December 2008 and accused by investors of creating a Ponzi scheme that lost as much as $500 million loaned to him—most of it by Los Angeles’ Iranian Jews.
Namvar’s resignation from Nessah’s board comes on the heels of a Feb. 26 report filed by the court-appointed trustees investigating Namvar’s assets and liabilities. According to the report, the vast majority of funds investors gave to Namvar and his company, Namco Capital, were used by the businessman and his family members for risky investments and, in some cases, for their own personal use
A. David Youssefyeh, a Century City Iranian-Jewish attorney who represents a number of Namvar and Namco creditors, said his clients were shocked after reading the trustee’s report. “The outstanding level of arrogance and entitlement that is outlined in the trustees’ report is mind blowing,” Youssefyeh said. “I doubt that anyone who was loaning money to Namco thought that the money would be used for Mr. Namvar’s brother’s wedding. I certainly hope that the proper authorities, and anyone who is doing business with Mr. Namvar now, reviews this report.”
Currently, the bankruptcy court handling Namvar’s case is determining whether to sell one of his largest assets, the Wilshire/Bundy building, and use the resulting funds to pay off Namvar’s and Namco’s largest creditors. On March 31, a group of Namvar’s individual Iranian-Jewish creditors appeared before the bankruptcy judge and filed a petition to oppose the sale of all of Namvar’s properties. More than 200 individual Namvar and Namco creditors who signed the petition are claiming a total of $160 million in losses from investments they made with Namvar and asking to be given priority in regaining their funds from the sale of Namvar’s assets.
Namvar is not facing criminal charges, but various civil suits filed against him allege that in the past 18 months, both he and Namco stopped paying dividends to his investors and in some cases could not return any of the funds lent to him.