FBI Opens Probe Into Developer Rishi Kapoor Over Miami Mayor Suarez Payments

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The FBI is investigating Miami-based developer Rishi Kapoor following allegations he quietly paid Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to help get a $70 million project approved, the Miami Herald reported

The FBI criminal probe, which got underway last week, is looking into whether the payments to Suarez — $10,000 a month since 2021, totaling at least $170,000 — constitute bribes. 

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Internal meeting notes, obtained by the Herald, show that Kapoor, CEO of Locations Ventures, met with Suarez and Miami City Manager Arthur Noriega last summer to “discuss the permitting problems” with Urbin Coconut Grove, a mixed-use development at 3162 Commodore Plaza. 

Location Ventures broke ground in January on Urbin Coconut Grove, which is set to feature 54 condos, ground-floor retail and co-working offices. Kapoor and Suarez have previously denied any wrongdoing, though neither immediately responded to requests for comment.

Kapoor is embroiled in another investigation. The SEC is looking into whether Kapoor sold investment contracts and did not register them as securities, misrepresenting potential profits to investors or misappropriating funds for personal expenses, the federal department confirmed to the Herald.

In December, three investors sued Kapoor, alleging he had changed the agreed financing plan and had secured at least $16 million in debt without authorization.

“These appear to be manipulated and twisted allegations provided by someone clearly trying to hurt Rishi Kapoor, Location Ventures and its investors in a sustained and coordinated media campaign. Location Ventures denies all wrongdoing, and looks forward to the truth coming out through the appropriate channels in due time,” Kapoor’s lawyer, Brian K. Goodkind of Goodkind & Florio, said in a statement.

The allegations came to light after former Location Ventures CFO Greg Brooks sued Kapoor to collect $80,000 in allegedly unpaid bonuses and accused the developer of misappropriation of funds, including misusing of condo buyers’ deposits. The two confidentially settled the lawsuit earlier this month.

For Suarez, a Republican re-elected as mayor in 2021, the probes come as he teases a presidential run. “I have traveled across the country. I’ve been to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada,” the mayor said on the “Fox News Sunday” program last week, adding that “I’m going to be making a big speech in the Reagan Library” [this Thursday].

The Miami mayor is facing his own investigation. The mayorship is largely a ceremonial, part-time role. Suarez has continued working as a lawyer and a private equity executive while in office. But Suarez only acknowledged his work for Location Ventures last month, after it was revealed by the Herald, prompting the Miami-Dade state attorney and The Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust to open a joint investigation.

Julia Echikson can be reached at jechikson@commercialobserver.com