The FBI is investigating shady real estate deals that were spearheaded by Jeffrey Yohai, the son-in-law of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The New York Times reports that investigators are looking into whether Yohai, with financial help from Manafort, ran what amounted to a Ponzi scheme involving tens of millions of dollars worth of real estate investments.
Specifically, the Times says that Yohai over the years has “borrowed millions from banks and obtained money from investors” to purchase luxurious homes in New York and California, while at the same time hinting to them that he has access to even larger piles of cash at his disposal.
Hacked text messages sent by Andrea Manfort, one of Paul Manafort’s daughters and the sister-in-law of Yohai, reveal that she believed Yohai was deceiving investors when he talked about having access to additional cash, however.
“Her hubby is running a Ponzi scheme,” she wrote to a friend in 2016. “I’m sure of it.”
Manafort, for his part, used his properties to help Yohai secure $20 million worth of mortgages over the past year alone.
“Some of that money appears to have been used by Mr. Manafort to try to salvage his investments with Mr. Yohai,” the Times writes. “Court records show that Mr. Manafort and his wife invested at least $4 million in several California properties, part of a real estate business that one of Mr. Manafort’s daughters described as a joint venture between her father and Mr. Yohai.”
Manafort himself has drawn scrutiny in recent months for his own unusual real estate deals, including $19.2 million worth of home equity loans on a property that has been left entirely untouched — despite the fact that the purpose of such loans is give owners incentives to invest in improving pieces of real estate for future sales.
The Times says it is unclear at this point whether the FBI’s investigation into Yohai is related to the broader probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.