Updated: 2:12 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020
FBI agents raided a Downtown Cleveland high-rise office building that has been linked to Ukrainian oligarchs in a 2019 lawsuit alleging money laundering.
A bureau spokeswoman confirmed agents were present at One Cleveland Center on East 9th Street Tuesday morning. The building belongs to Optima Management Group, a real estate company that also owns 55 Public Square and is an investor in the Westin Cleveland hotel.
Agents also raided a building in Miami on Tuesday, according to FBI Cleveland spokeswoman Vicki Anderson. No one was taken into custody during either raid, she said.
In a May 2019 lawsuit filed in Delaware, Ukrainian commercial lender PrivatBank alleged oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov laundered hundreds of millions of dollars from the bank through Optima properties in Cleveland and real estate around the country.
According to the lawsuit, the oligarchs used a complicated set of financial transactions to drain the bank of money, funneling the dollars into U.S. real estate holdings including One Cleveland Center, 55 Public Square, the Huntington building at 925 Euclid Ave. and the Crowne Plaza, which became the Westin.
Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov were controlling stockholders of the bank from 2006 until 2016, according to the lawsuit.
In December 2016, the National Bank of Ukraine declared PrivatBank insolvent, and the Ukrainian government nationalized it to protect depositors.
Last year, an Optima official denied the lawsuit’s allegations in a statement to Cleveland Scene.
“The allegations in this lawsuit – part of an orchestrated political attack by a Ukrainian bank against investors in our thriving businesses – are false, defamatory and utterly without merit,” Chaim Schochet told Scene. “We intend not only to contest but to disprove these reckless allegations, and to demonstrate that they are part of a smear campaign driven by a Ukrainian political agenda that we have nothing to do with.”
ideastream’s phone call to Optima Management Group on Tuesday was not answered.