Brandon Charnas is being eyed in a criminal investigation by the Justice Department in addition to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a probe which may be roping in other real estate figures.
The DOJ is in the early stages of probing Charnas’ $385,000 profit that allegedly came via insider trading, Bloomberg reported. The SEC has been hot on Charnas’ trail for some time, investigating alleged use of non-public information regarding Staples’ bid for Office Depot.
Right before Christmas in 2020, Charnas lunched with friends in Miami and soon after invested $31,000 in call options for Office Depot, according to the SEC. He and other traders allegedly bought options and shares of Office Depot’s parent company in the subsequent days.
When Staples announced an offer to buy Office Depot on Jan. 11, 2021, text messages in a group chat involving the traders included one message saying, “You’re welcome boyz,” according to the SEC.
Charnas’ attorney has refuted the insider trading allegations.
There is a subpoena fight brewing between the SEC and Charnas, co-founder of Current Real Estate Advisors. The SEC is seeking text messages from Charnas, who scored a win in Florida when the regulator was blocked from obtaining them; the SEC is appealing.
But a court filing in the subpoena battle needed to be redacted after the SEC said it named people who were under investigation. While the filings didn’t have details on individuals being investigated, Bloomberg cobbled together names through search terms the regulator flagged in regards to its subpoena.
Those names include Brett Mufson, president of Fontainebleau Development and a board member of Charnas’ company, and Stefano Santoro, hired in 2020 by Charnas. Neither Mufson nor Santoro commented to Bloomberg.
Charnas and his partner Adam Henick lead Current, which is active in New York and Miami. Charnas is also known for being married to Arielle Charnas, a social media influencer who founded the now-struggling fashion brand, Something Navy.
The couple have a prominent online presence, which has led to some mockery on the web in light of their recent issues. On a Reddit board, a user commented on “how the mighty have fallen” when a picture showed Brandon flying coach in a middle seat.
— Holden Walter-Warner