Dshambul, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic
|Occupation||Real estate developer, investor|
Tofik Arifov (Russian: Тофик Арифов; born May 1953), also known as Tevfik Arif, is a Soviet-born Turkish real estate developer and investor. He is the founder of the Bayrock Group, a real estate development and investment company known for its business with Donald Trump. Bayrock and Trump were partners on the troubled Trump SoHo and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Fort Lauderdale, which was sold after it defaulted.
Early life and career
Tevfik Arif was born Tofik Arifov in a Turkish family in Dshambul, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. He received an international relations degree from a Moscow university. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Arif worked for the USSR's Ministry of Commerce and Trade for 17 years. He served as the deputy director of its Department of Hotel Management. Arif resigned from the ministry in 1991 and founded Speciality Chemicals Trading Company, an export-import business trading in rare metals, chrome, and raw materials. He then worked as an "agent on the ground" in Kazakhstan for Trans World Group, a natural resources company run by David and Simon Reuben.
Arif moved to Turkey in 1993. He had owned the Turkish jewellery business Alset Dis Ticaret since 1979. In 1999, Arif partnered with the Rixos hotel chain to open the Labada luxury hotel in Antalya, Turkey.
Following the independence of Kazakhstan, Arif and his brother secured ownership of ACCP, a chromium plant in Aktobe that had headquarters in the British Virgin Islands. The brothers developed ties to the "Kazakh Trio" — Alexander Mashkevitch, Patokh Chodiev, and Alijan Ibragimov. They later established offshore real estate companies to fund high-end developments in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.
In 2001, Arif moved some of his businesses to the United States and founded the Bayrock Group, a real estate development company. He began developing property in Brooklyn, first redeveloping Loehmann's Seaport Plaza, a waterfront shopping center in Sheepshead Bay. Arif was originally the sole employee of Bayrock, later hiring Felix Sater as managing director.
After moving the Bayrock Group to Trump Tower, Arif developed a relationship with billionaire businessman Donald Trump. Trump provided a licensing deal for the Trump SoHo hotel in a joint venture between the Bayrock Group and the Sapir Organisation. In 2007, Bayrock traded future profits from Trump SoHo and other projects in exchange for $50 million in financing from Icelandic company FL Group. The arrangement led Bayrock's finance director to file racketeering lawsuits, alleging that money was diverted to people outside the company, including Salvatore Lauria, an associate of Sater's.
Trump and Bayrock later developed the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Fort Lauderdale. Arif also worked to introduce Trump to investors from Russia. Through Bayrock, Arif collaborated with Trump on projects in Turkey, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Arizona, Colorado, New York, and Florida.
In 2010, Arif was arrested in Turkey and charged with running a prostitution ring, accused of human trafficking from Russia and Ukraine. Arif was one of 10 people arrested aboard the $60 million yacht MV Savarona in a massive sting operation. The charges were eventually dropped.
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The Port Washington Chabad house has another Bayrock tie. Among its top 13 benefactors, its “Chai Circle,” as listed on its website, is Sater’s partner, Bayrock founder Tevfik Arif. Arif, a former Soviet bureaucrat turned wealthy real estate developer, owns a mansion in Port Washington, an upscale suburb, but he makes a curious patron for the town’s Chabad. A Kazakh-born citizen of Turkey with a Muslim name, Arif is not Jewish, according to people who have worked with him.