Armed with a victory, a Canadian lawyer promised Monday to widen litigation against a Russian-émigré partner of President Donald Trump in the troubled Trump International Hotel in Toronto.
Canada’s highest court last Thursday upheld an earlier ruling that Talon International Development Inc. had misled investors. Talon, headed by billionaire Alex Shnaider, was Trump’s partner in the project to build a Trump-named hotel and condo complex.
Trump and his campaign’s possible ties to Russians have come under intense scrutiny in the wake of findings by U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian government sought to meddle in U.S. elections.
Trump has said he has no business in Russia nor any loans there, although he’s done business with many wealthy Russians, including Shnaider.
“I will be pursuing judgment against Talon,” Mitchell Wine, attorney for the two Canadians who sued Trump and his partners, told McClatchy.
Wine, with the Toronto law firm Levine Sherkin Boussidan, is expanding to 20 the number of unit owners claiming to have been misled by Talon. The suit seeks recovery of investments worth about $10 million in Canadian dollars – about $7.4 million in U.S. dollars.
The lawyer for aggrieved investors, who say they were duped with promises of returns on investment as high as 20.9 percent, has filed several lawsuits including ones that name Trump and two of his companies. Thursday’s ruling was against his partner, Talon, but Trump could eventually be targeted for damages.
Shnaider, who was born in Russia and immigrated to Canada as a teenager, made his fortune in oil and real estate in Russia and Ukraine. He partnered with Eduard Shyfrin in the Trump hotel in Toronto, their first North American luxury development. The hotel and the condos opened in 2012 but Talon defaulted on loans by 2015 and went into bankruptcy receivership last year.
The Trump Organization remains connected to the bankrupt project because its Trump Toronto Hotel Management Corp. has a service agreement for hotel management on the premises. Trump Marks Toronto LP collects license fees.
“My clients were not the owners, developers or sellers of the project, but rather merely licensed their brand and were hired to manage the property, including the hotel,” said Alan Garten, executive vice president of the Trump Organization. “As a result there is still no factual or legal basis to involve my clients in any of those claims that remain.”
If Wine cannot reach settlement with Talon for the full amount, he said, the focus will turn to Trump and Shnaider.
“That’s when I intend to look to all the other defendants,” Wine said, adding that he is also bringing a class-action suit against Talon that could bring into litigation another 100 to 150 aggrieved investors.
“He’s got no real claim against the president,” said Symon Zucker, the attorney for Talon and Shnaider. “This is just an attempt to publicize his action.”
Trump licensed his name and collected licensing fees from the project. His company is involved in managing the hotel. But the Trump Organization did not sell or market units, said Zucker.
“There is virtually no liability on behalf of the Trump Organization,” he said.