Koret Directors Personally Profited From Self-Dealing Through Sale of Koret Assets to Prometheus Real Estate Group, Attorneys Say
San Francisco—Attorneys representing Susan Koret, the widow of the founder of the Koret Foundation, have filed a brief to oppose a move that would seal financial documents from public view in the battle over the future of the Koret Foundation.
Attorneys for Mrs. Koret say the documents show Koret directors profited from the sale of millions of dollars of Koret Foundation real estate assets to a business associate, Prometheus Real Estate Group of San Mateo, Calif., for ‘side deals’ that profited Tad Taube, a longtime president of the Koret Foundation.
Prometheus bought two large Foundation real estate property interests in 2014 and Prometheus, through its president Jaclyn Safier, is now seeking to seal closing statements and transaction documents showing financial payments and related deposition testimony from the public, said attorney Rob Bunzel of Bartko Zankel Bunzel, attorneys for Mrs. Koret, in the public filing.
In the filing for Mrs. Koret, made March 28, 2016, Bunzel said Prometheus’ motion to seal is motivated “to keep from a public trial terms of deals that greatly benefitted Koret directors….These deals all revolve around huge transactions with a public charity. There is no expectation of secrecy, no trade secrets and no reason to seal the records.”
Mrs. Koret, the widow of Foundation founder Joseph Koret, filed suit in October 2014 against Koret Foundation Board President Tad Taube, accusing him and the foundation’s board of directors of conflicts of interest in funding pet projects that include conservative causes in the United States and charities in his native country of Poland.
The suit alleges that under Taube’s direction the board has ignored the priorities established by her late husband to help the poor and assist Jewish causes in the Bay Area and Israel. Instead, her suit claims, the Koret board is using foundation funds to promote programs closely affiliated with individual board members and is purposely confusing the public by putting signage that prominently features Taube’s name alongside the Koret Foundation name on buildings and grants for which the Koret Foundation is the principal funder.
Some of the documents in question involve the sale of the Foundation’s interest in Fair Oaks apartment complex at 655 South Fair Oaks Ave., Sunnyvale, to Prometheus, which was the 6th largest real estate transaction in Santa Clara in 2014 with a sale price of $122,600,500, according to PropertyShark.com.
According to Mrs. Koret’s brief that opposes the seal: “the public’s right of access is paramount. Ms. (Jaclyn) Safier’s Declaration simply provides conclusory statements that data or terms in these real estate documents are proprietary in some way. There is no discussion of how this unspecified interest in confidentiality overcomes the public right of access. Given that the public’s right of access is of constitutional dimension and this Court’s obligation is to ensure public access to public trials, the showing on the face of the motion is deficient to establish any interest that “overcomes” the public interest.”
A hearing date is set for April 11 to hear motions in San Francisco Superior Court. The trial for Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit against the Foundation’s directors begins April 18.
Mrs. Koret’s lawsuit demands the removal of board members Tad Taube and his longtime legal counsel Richard L. Greene of Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh LLP in part due to alleged self-dealing. The suit pleads breach of charitable trust for an injunction against all of the directors who include Anita Friedman, director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Richard Atkinson, former president of the University of California, Michael J. Boskin, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Abraham D. Sofaer, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
To learn more: www.SaveKoret.org.