A former high-ranking executive at HFZ Capital Group, Nir Meir, along with several other real estate industry executives, has been indicted for their alleged involvement in a massive fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of over $86 million. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced the charges on Wednesday, shedding light on a years-long operation that targeted investors, subcontractors, and the City of New York.
According to the indictment, Meir, 49, and the now-defunct HFZ Capital Group, under the leadership of founder Ziel Feldman, orchestrated the fraudulent scheme during Meir’s five-year tenure at the company. The case primarily revolves around the development of a luxury condominium project known as the XI, located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. HFZ had enlisted Omnibuild, a construction firm, in 2015 to construct two mixed-use towers for the project.
Prosecutors allege that Meir directed more than $253 million in project funds to be transferred to various limited liability companies (LLCs) controlled by HFZ, despite the legal requirement to use the assets for the development. Instead, the funds were diverted to cover financial shortfalls on unrelated HFZ projects and, in some instances, to personal accounts controlled by HFZ executives. This diversion resulted in a shortfall of over $37 million owed to Omnibuild and its subcontractors.
To conceal the financial shortfall and inflate the cost of work, Meir allegedly conspired with Omnibuild executives John Mingione, Roy Galifi, and Kevin Stewart, as well as his HFZ colleagues Anthony Marrone and Louis Della-Peruta, to inflate monthly invoices. As HFZ faced financial difficulties and investors began questioning the firm’s records, Meir allegedly instructed an HFZ accountant to forge bank statements, falsely reflecting millions of dollars in investor funds. One forged statement purportedly showed a balance of over $24.6 million when the actual amount was a mere $814.
The XI project eventually fell into foreclosure in 2021 following HFZ’s financial collapse, which was accompanied by numerous investor lawsuits and other foreclosures. Manhattan District Attorney Bragg emphasized the magnitude of the alleged fraud, stating that the defendants’ conspiracies resulted in a total of $86 million stolen from investors, contractors, and the City of New York.
Nir Meir was apprehended in Miami Beach, Florida, on Monday and is currently undergoing extradition proceedings to return to New York. During their arraignment on Wednesday, all three Omnibuild executives, as well as the company itself, pleaded not guilty to the charges. HFZ and one of its executives, Anthony Marrone, also entered not guilty pleas. Louis Della-Peruta, the remaining HFZ defendant, is expected to surrender on Thursday morning and awaits arraignment.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, through its Rackets Bureau, remains committed to combating fraud within the construction and real estate industries, aiming to hold accountable those who defraud investors and corrupt the market.