Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Mauricio Umansky settles Malibu lawsuit with pro-Israel donation

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Following the attack in Gaza in October, plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Umansky and his partners decided their time and energy would be “better served” on more important matters, allowing Umansky to settle with a donation to a pro-Israel charity.

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The Agency CEO Mauricio Umansky has settled a 2019 lawsuit over the sale of a 15,000-square-foot Malibu mansion, in which Umansky was accused of breaching his duties as a broker during the transaction, The LA Times reported on Friday.

The lawsuit filed against Umansky and his development partner, Mauricio Oberfeld, and their associates by real estate investor Sam Hakim and his agent, Aitan Segal, alleged that the defendants had conspired to purchase the Malibu property for $32.5 million in 2016 — despite a higher offer that Hakim had put down on the property — in order to later flip the 16-acre estate for nearly $70 million, netting them a hefty profit.

Umansky and The Agency represented both sides of the transaction, and Umansky had a stake in the buyer’s limited liability company, which was fronted by Oberfeld.

The plaintiffs had been seeking at least $35 million in damages, which was roughly the profit Umansky and Oberfeld made on the flip.

The atrocities brought on by the war in Gaza prompted Hakim to want to settle the matter, according to a statement from his attorneys, Jennifer Shakouri and Alan Hearty.

“In light of current global events, including the shocking attack on the state of Israel on October 7, Mr. Hakim decided his time and energy would be better served on matters other than this litigation,” the statement said. “This led him to resolve the matter.”

The statement also specified that as part of the settlement, Umansky agreed to donate to a “pro-Israel charitable organization.” The sum of the donation was not disclosed, but Umansky, who is also Jewish, told The LA Times that it was something he would have been glad to do regardless of the settlement.

An aerial view of the property at 3620 Sweetwater Mesa Road, Malibu | Google Maps

Umanksy also posted a statement to his social media in response to the settlement, expressing his pleasure in the outcome.

“I am pleased to announce that the four-year lawsuit with Sam Hakim and Aiton Segal is resolved,” Umansky wrote. “Neither myself or The Agency or Mauricio Oberfeld or Matt Dugally paid Sam Hakim or Aitan Segal any compensation. In the spirit of cooperation, the parties have agreed to resolve their disputes and close this chapter not with contention but with a gesture of goodwill that reflects the parties’ shared values and commitment to the greater good. In that regard, I am please to announce that The Agency and I will be making a donation to a charity that supports Israelis affected by the Israel-Hamas war, a cause in which both Mr. Hakim and I champion.”

Umansky also asserted that he thought the lawsuit claims were baseless from the beginning.

“I have always maintained that this case was meritless but have been advised not to speak publicly about any specifics supporting that belief,” he continued. “Now after all this time of staying silent and where I could not comment to the media and public to defend my reputation, this outcome speaks for itself. And I believe it further supports my feeling about the merits of this case.”

Hakim’s desire to settle also came after a series of text messages came to light that showed Hakim was first made aware of Umansky and Oberfeld’s partnership to conduct the flip in 2017, not 2018 as Hakim had previously claimed. That date was relevant to how long Hakim had to file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations expired.

Another main point of contention in the case concerned when Umansky and Oberfeld entered into an agreement with each other to buy and flip the property. Umansky had told Nguema and the Department of Justice about the agreement in June 2016, but a judge in the case argued that documents revealed a “concrete February 2016 plan for a joint partnership that had long been in the works.”

Umansky disputed that claim, telling The LA Times the “judge was completely wrong in those statements.”

This marks the second lawsuit Umansky faced over the same Malibu property. The first was by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, son of the president of Equatorial Guinea, who was forced to sell the property in 2014 after the U.S. government filed an asset forfeiture case that alleged he purchased the mansion and other luxury items with laundered funds. Nguema hired Umansky to sell the property for him, the proceeds of which were split between the U.S. government and the people of Equatorial Guinea, but later sued Umansky for allegedly lowering the sale price after he learned that Umansky had flipped it for $69.9 million.

Umansky settled that case by providing $6.35 million to a healthcare nonprofit in Equatorial Guinea.

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Email Lillian Dickerson

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