(JTA) — He’s been sued by his vendors. He’s been sued by his creditors. He’s been sued by his lawyers. The IRS has a lien against him.
His name is Moshe Lax, and he’s Ivanka Trump’s former longtime business partner. He also introduced her to her husband, Jared Kushner.
Lax, an Orthodox Jew, is the subject of a profile in Politico Magazine that runs through his messy history of business dealings and details his partnership with President Donald Trump’s daughter. According to the article, he has remained close to the First Family even as the lawsuits against him have piled up.
Lax is the son of Chaim Lax, a diamond mogul and philanthropist. He became chairman of the now-defunct Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry about a decade ago. Lax ran the business out of his property on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, and signed a licensing agreement with Trump that paid her an annual fee and about a third of the net profits.
But Lax then defaulted on a series of payments and engaged in other practices described by Politico as inappropriate at best. Even so, Trump kept the business going, and appears to have conferred with Lax about another business deal.
Lax features glowingly in Ivanka’s 2010 book, “The Trump Card,” and was a guest at Donald Trump’s Election Night party last year. He’s also partly responsible for Ivanka’s marriage to Jared Kushner; they met at an event hosted by Lax at Prime Grill, a Manhattan kosher restaurant.
Lax hasn’t only owed money to Trump. In 2015, a court ordered him to pay $2.4 million plus interest to KGK Diamonds, a company he bought diamonds from but did not pay. The IRS has a $27 million lien against his father’s estate. He’s accused of hiding his wealth through a series of shell companies. And then there’s this, from the article:
Last January, Lax’s cousin, Aron, sued Lax and his sister for allegedly pursuing “unjust enrichment” by trying to evict Aron and his wife from a Brooklyn condo that they have resided in since 2006 but whose mortgage is in the name of Lax’s late father. Last October, the firm Porzio, Bromberg & Newman sued Lax for $100,000 in unpaid legal fees. And in June, the law firm Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone sued Lax for $20,000 in unpaid legal fees. The cases remain ongoing. Lax has also been named as a defendant in a number of cases claiming failures to make mortgage payments.
Lax has denied many of the accusations against him. In a statement sent to JTA Tuesday, he attributes his legal issues to $160 million in outstanding debts that his father incurred, many from real estate investments during the Great Recession. Lax said that his inexperience and mismanagement compounded the problems.
“When my father died, as trustee of the estate, I inherited a boatload of problems,” he said in the statement. “I feel I delegated too much, too freely to advisers and lawyers, and I was in over my head. These are matters that were far beyond my experience and professional knowledge. I desperately wanted to protect my father’s honor. I did my best to make it right.”
Mishpacha Magazine, an Orthodox publication, provides an opposite take on Lax in a flattering April profile. That article describes Lax as an earnest young entrepreneur who has written a scholarly book on Jewish law and makes music in his spare time. While Politico says vendors regard him as a “fraud and a serial extortionist,” Mishpacha says the qualities that define him are “quiet thoughtfulness and easy honesty.”
In either case, the venture with Trump is done. She announced the closing of Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry this year, and the website no longer works.