December 30, 2008
Iranian Jewish community split as creditors force Ezri Namvar into bankruptcy
Trusted friend of the community on hot spot as fight over lost $400 million begins
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Yahid also said that up until recently, Namvar and his family have had an impeccable reputation in the community, and over the years hundreds of Southern California Iranian Jews enjoyed prosperity from money they invested with Namvar without any problems, often receiving higher returns than they might have gotten elsewhere. He said Namvar and his family members have donated money extensively to various charitable organizations in Israel, Jewish educational groups in the U.S. as well as to several local Iranian Jewish centers and synagogues.
The statement released by the provisional committee also indicated Namvar's goodwill and willingness to cooperate with his creditors by stating [Ezri Namvar has said] he will put up all of his personal assets anywhere in the world, plus assets held in the names of his wife and in his children's trusts plus a pledge of future income for the purpose of satisfying creditor debts assuming the provisional committee can come up with a proposed plan approved by the creditors which will avert bankruptcy.
Namvar's problems also extend beyond the local Iranian Jewish community; General Electric Capital Group, the finance unit of the General Electric Co., is a plaintiff in one of 17 lawsuits filed against Namvar, claiming that he defaulted on a nearly $90 million loan he used to purchase the downtown Los Angeles Marriott Hotel last year for $115 million.
In addition, on Nov. 7, California state regulators declared insolvent Namvar's Security Pacific Bank and closed it down. The bank's four branches and deposits were later acquired by the San Diego-based Pacific Western Bank, according to an FDIC report.
With millions of dollars at stake and emotions running high among local Iranian Jews, over the past several weeks Youssefyeh has received a number of anonymous angry letters from Iranian Jews threatening him and warning him that his reputation in the community would be destroyed if he advised his clients to file bankruptcy petitions against Namvar.
Youssefyeh said the letters and personal attacks did not sway his decision to represent his clients in this case.
"My answer to everyone that is mad at the creditors that filed the bankruptcy is that your anger is misplaced," he said. "They are not the ones who lost your money -- these people need to figure out who they are mad at. Is it the person who lost their money or it the people who are trying to defend them and to find an orderly and fair way for the assets to be distributed?"
According to the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy code, after creditors file an involuntary bankruptcy petition against a debtor such as Namvar, the debtor can either fight the petition in court by disputing his inability to pay the creditors or agree with the court and allow it to seize his assets in order to pay the creditors.
Whatever the outcome of the case, attorneys and community leaders involved with the matter said a substantial number of local Iranian Jewish families will ultimately suffer financially in the years to come.
1 | 2