(Adds comment from New York City Department of Buildings)
By Nathan Layne
March 22 (Reuters) - A New York City regulator is investigating 13 buildings controlled by a company formerly run by Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, over possible “illegal activity” related to work permits, according to public filings.
The online filings by the Department of Buildings show it is investigating the possibility of “false filing” on applications by Kushner Companies for construction work. The documents, dated Wednesday, involve properties in the Brooklyn and Manhattan boroughs of New York.
News of the agency’s probe comes two days after a tenants’ rights group and a city councilman said they had found evidence that Kushner Companies had falsified more than 80 work permits involving 34 buildings in the city.
The building department’s probe is an expansion of an ongoing investigation that has included penalties against an architect for submitting false paperwork, said Joseph Soldevere, a spokesman for the agency.
“We are actively investigating this matter. What we have been doing this week is a follow up of an investigation as far back as 2016 into several Kushner-owned buildings that resulted in the sanctioning of an architect,” he said.
Earlier this week, Christine Taylor, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said the company valued its tenants, took its legal and ethical responsibilities seriously and would not intentionally falsify filings.
“Any small amount of mistakes that may have been made, amongst the hundreds of filings, were obviously unintentional and remedied as soon as identified,” Taylor said on Thursday.
“We intend to cooperate with the DOB to clear up this matter,” she said, referring to the Department of Buildings.
The probe was first reported by the Associated Press.
The tenants rights group, Housing Rights Initiative, and Councilman Ritchie Torres have alleged that Kushner Companies failed to disclose the existence of rent-stabilized units in its buildings, thereby skirting tighter oversight during renovations and harassing tenants.
The group and Torres, who on Monday announced a joint investigation into matter, also accused the company of using construction as a means of pushing tenants with rent controls out of their buildings. The tactics, employed by other landlords, have led to a significant drop in affordable housing in the city, the group says.
The building department’s investigation was assigned to its marshal’s office, which investigates allegations of unlicensed activity by plumbers and other trades and “develops cases for both civil and criminal prosecution,” according to its website. (Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio)