By T. D. Thornton
On Mar. 16, Ahmed Zayat asked a federal judge not to grant the trustee in his bankruptcy case extra time that had been requested to scrutinize Zayat's finances so the trustee could make sure the owner and breeder of Triple Crown champ American Pharoah was telling the truth about not being able pay $19 million in debts because he allegedly only had $314.22 to his name.
Now, one week later, MGG Investment Group, LP, the lender who is separately suing Zayat and his family members for allegedly obtaining a $24 million loan by fraud and then not repaying it, told the same court that the trustee's probe must be allowed to go forward because Zayat's attempt to put an end to the discovery process “does nothing more than establish that Ahmed Zayat is a perpetual liar determined to hinder and obstruct the Trustee, the Court and creditors at every turn.”
MGG's Mar. 23 filing in United States Bankruptcy Court (District of New Jersey) is rooted in the New York-based lending company's desire not to have Zayat's debts declared legally forgiven under the Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection he is seeking.
MGG has previously asserted in court that loans it made in 2016 to Zayat's racing and bloodstock business were the product of years of systematic fraud that Zayat allegedly orchestrated, including Zayat Stables' desperate selling-off of equine assets that had been pledged to MGG as collateral.
“There is only one reason the statutory meeting of creditors commenced in this
Case…has been kept open and must remain open—namely, notwithstanding Ahmed Zayat's unsupported assertions of cooperation, he has done everything in his power to frustrate the process,” MGG wrote in its objection to Zayat's recent cross-motion to move the case toward conclusion.
MGG's filing continues: “Far from being the 'honest but unfortunate debtor' that the Chapter 7 process aims to protect, Ahmed Zayat has demonstrated time and again that his ultimate goal is to manipulate the bankruptcy process to shield himself at the expenses of the Trustee and creditors.”
According to MGG, since Zayat filed for bankruptcy protection back in September, he has delayed the administration of his case by 1) Refusing to produce documents prior to the initial hearing; 2) Refusing to respond to “numerous questions” on the basis that he did not have the necessary documents in front of him; 3) Promising, then subsequently refusing, to produce requested materials; 4) Providing paperwork that was so heavily redacted that the documents made no sense.
“Ahmed Zayat should not be able to impede the Trustee's analysis or derail his investigation, all of which is being conducted for the ultimate benefit of the Debtor's creditors,” MGG wrote.
The primary role of a trustee in bankruptcy cases is to ensure that a debtor who files for federal bankruptcy protection is not hiding assets that could instead be used to pay creditors. An objection can be filed to the proceedings if a trustee believes aspects of the filing are not on the up-and-up. A judge can either dismiss a case on his own or by acting on a trustee's objection. A judge can also deny the discharge of a particular debt.
And if alleged fraud is uncovered in a bankruptcy filing, the Federal Bureau of Investigation can investigate, and the U.S. Department of Justice can prosecute if it believes a crime has been committed.
MGG wrote that in addition to supporting the trustee in his request for one more month to sift through documentation, the lender also wanted to “advise the Court of significant recent developments” that arose out of Zayat's testimony under oath at a Feb. 25 hearing.
Specifically, MGG alleged, documents pertaining to bank accounts in the names of Zayat's wife (Joanne Zayat) and son (Justin Zayat) are now “indisputably relevant to the Trustee's investigation and analysis, as they appear to have been used as conduits through which Sherif El Zayat, the Debtor's brother, loaned money to Ahmed Zayat.”
Last week, Ahmed Zayat's cross-motion included a letter from his attorney, Jay Lubetkin, who wrote that the trustee's request for the banking documents of family members didn't “have any apparent relevance to the Trustee's decision whether to file an objection to discharge complaint.”
Lubetkin also wrote Mar. 16 that “The Debtor has been extremely cooperative with the Trustee [and has] provided to the Trustee significant documentation respecting his financial affairs…. The Debtor has responded with voluminous documents in satisfaction of the Trustee's three very extensive document requests, and temporarily withheld only a small portion of those documents for legitimate, good faith, objectively supportable reasons…The Debtor [eventually] provided the Trustee with the temporarily withheld documents, and the Trustee has been in possession of all the requested documents for more than 60 days.”
MGG wrote in its Mar. 23 filing that “Ahmed Zayat has attempted to create a record based on false and misleading assertions.”
MGG's filing contained excerpts from email exchanges between Ahmed Zayat and MGG that date to Jan. 12, 2020, which was 10 days before MGG filed its bombshell lawsuit against him in a Kentucky court.
“It kills me and tore me part, not being transparent with you,” Zayat allegedly wrote at the time, apparently in an effort to stave off the impending legal action.
“I did not disclose to you why we had to sell some assets in order for us to fund and continue to operate Zayat Stables and allowing myself the time to find the capital to get you paid in full…. I did not want you to panic knowing that I still have a chance to save the day…
“There is still a glimpse of light that a miracle can happen,” Zayat allegedly wrote.