Manhattan DA Investigating $100M Interior Construction Fraud Ring
New York police and the Manhattan District Attorney's office raided Bloomberg headquarters at 731 Lexington Ave. as part of an investigation into fraud over interior construction.
Warrants and subpoenas were issued for the computers of two senior executives at the company, as well as two executives at Turner Construction, Bloomberg's contractor for interior build-outs at its offices across the city, the New York Times reports. Investigators believe that the executives in question engaged in a kickback scheme to inflate bills and improperly award subcontractor bids, defrauding Bloomberg in the process.
Bloomberg, which is not under investigation as a company, and Turner both claim to be victims of individual employees who skirted protocols to enrich themselves. The Turner executives reportedly did not use company-provided devices or emails to record the deals in question to avoid being tracked for compliance issues. Bloomberg claims that it overpaid by less than $1M.
The scope of the investigation, which extends beyond Turner and beyond Bloomberg, includes more than $100M in artificially inflated bills, the Times reports. At least eight people across Bloomberg, Turner and various subcontractors have already been fired in connection with the investigation, but no arrest warrants have been issued.
Also at issue is the bidding process by which Turner selected subcontractors. A $15M lawsuit filed in 2016 by drywall company Nastasi & Associates alleged that Turner and Bloomberg altered Nastasi's bid to appear higher in order to award a contract to competitor Litespeed, which has also had its offices searched by investigators.
Bloomberg's primary contractor for internal work up until 2013 was a company called Structure Tone, which pleaded guilty to corruption charges and was forced to pay $55M back for defrauding Bloomberg. Turner was then hired to take over as primary contractor.
Bloomberg hiring two fraudulent contractors in a row is not as unlikely as it may seem, as four more of the largest construction firms in the city — Plaza Construction, Tishman Construction, Granite Construction and Hunter Roberts Construction Group — have paid a reported $92M in restitution as a result of fraud investigations by the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn since 2013, according to the Times.