At least three properties connected to the real estate developer Savio Banker – who has garnered a reputation for many home building and high-end project cancellations – have hit the Supreme Court over the past year. Now they’ll also be under the microscope.
Savio Banker has been the focus of investigations in Howard County (SURRY COUNTY) and Chesterfield County (CASSEL COUNTY).
The Connecticut-based company faces numerous lawsuits from home builders who say their deals were thwarted by loans guaranteed by Washington Mutual Bank. Court records show one case is set to go to trial in 2019.
A former Banker employee insists these cases have been, in part, delayed by Banker himself. The court records show Banker has since, in part, stopped working for Washington Mutual. He says he is moving to Abu Dhabi to a city it may not be safe to invest in and allegedly takes inspiration from the culture at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, where he and friends launched their own real estate company several years ago.
“I know if you’re here, sitting in Abu Dhabi, building real estate, no one is looking at you,” said Banker, a millionaire multiple times over. “If you’re going to build in this country, you’re going to die. It’s called America.”
We tried to get answers from US Attorney Edward Henderson, who oversees the real estate crime division in the Eastern District of Virginia. He said he had “not seen it” and when told the bankers wanted to speak with him instead, he would not confirm or deny if they had applied to meet with him.
We asked if US Attorney Anderson Coates authorized the court hearing in Richmond. He said he couldn’t comment. He referred us to the US Department of Justice. That office confirmed to us it had no legal standing in these cases. It referred us to the Virginia Court of Appeals for clarification. We will let you know when we hear back.
Among those court cases are cases in which a judgment is being sought against Savio Banker and seven other companies involved in the loans. Court records indicate the trustee of the Canada Canadian Opportunity Fund, where the developer’s name on the loan is listed, is trying to collect more than $500,000 in unpaid interest and penalties from Banker. Banker would not name himself as the trustee in this case, but it appears he is the only individual connected to Savio Banker named in the lawsuit. Banker admits he might owe a debt to investors, but also suggested they might still get their money back after all. The court case is ongoing.
Regarding the Colesville mansion once owned by Wall Street titan Steven Case, which Banker says was involved in an eminent domain case, Savio Banker admits it cancelled that title on property without putting the property on the market, even as he claims the subdivision was five years behind schedule. As we mentioned, we’ve detailed other projects that have been canceled or plagued by delays, including homes in Ashland and Virginia Beach. All involved Banker and companies associated with him.
Banker points to his long experience in real estate.
“I’ve built and renovated buildings in some of the most affluent areas of the country and in London and Paris and Africa. I can build properties and sell them for a handsome profit,” he said.
The very popular developer – and with that, the subject of countless obituaries – points to the success of his housing projects. He says many of them have been the source of jobs and affordable housing for low-income people. Banker also said his companies have employed over 1,500 people and have provided over $1.7 billion in financing. He argues, as he admits did to the builders in those cases, his lenders knew what they were doing, and complied with the terms of the loans they issued.
“They knew they were buying all sorts of land,” he said. “They didn’t have the money to finish all the construction. We knew we were going to start late. We knew we were going to build the best we could. But we didn’t have enough money to complete the home. That is fine. That is fine. Because we live in a global marketplace, the finest buyers are going to be able to find the best products and the best projects.”
One attorney disagrees.
“Here was a developer who clearly presented himself to be a successful and respected developer,” said Todd Osgood, an attorney for One Fair Oaks LLC, a lawyer who has a claim of unpaid interest and penalty against Savio Banker. “The jury in this case saw otherwise