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During his successful mayoral campaign last year, Eric Adams was dogged by a nagging ethical question about his failure to disclose ownership of an apartment in Brooklyn.

On Wednesday, Mr. Adams had the opportunity to clear up his real estate entanglements and settle the matter. But instead of clearing up the matter, the mayor only sowed confusion.

It is a one-bedroom apartment in the Crown Heights neighborhood that the mayor has owned with his former partner, Sylvia Cowan, since 1988, according to his recent financial disclosure forms.

For years, the mayor made no mention of the property on the public disclosure forms the state and city require of elected officials.

When running for mayor last year, Mr Adams claimed the forms were correct, saying he transferred full ownership of the flat to Ms Cowan in 2007. He even produced a three-year letter sentences to that effect, although the diary was not signed by his former partner and had not been notarized.

Mr Adams blamed the misunderstanding on Ms Cowan, claiming at the time that she had not properly recorded the transfer.

But in his annual filing released Wednesday by the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board, the mayor acknowledged he still owns half the property.

This time, Mr Adams blamed his former accountant, whom he said he kept on even after the accountant became homeless and has since replaced.

The mayor had a year to clarify the matter himself, but he did not.

“As was said during his campaign last year, Mayor Adams thought he transferred his interest in the property to the other owner of the property in 2007,” said Fabien Levy, the mayor’s spokesman. in a report. “However, once he found a new accountant, the mayor realized that all the proper paperwork had not been completed in the past.”

He claimed the “process is now underway”, adding that the mayor has not lived, earned an income or controlled the property for more than a decade.

This latest revelation underscores the opacity surrounding Mr. Adams’ lifestyle and personal history. He misled the public that he was vegan. (He also eats fish.) In February, he told state lawmakers he had been convicted of a felony, when he had not been. In a keynote address in 2019, he appropriated the story of a pastor like his own. And during his mayoral campaign, lingering questions arose about his residency.

This year, Mr Adams refused to release his tax returns, despite the mayor’s precedent, then suggested he might not make them public. He then backtracked and said he had filed for an extension and would release them after the next filing date, in October.

Mark Davies, who served as executive director of the city’s conflict of interest committee from 1994 to 2015, said while he was unaware of the facts in the case, violations of the laws the council enforces are serious.

“Financial disclosure is critically important to a government ethics program because it alerts the public and the press to potential conflicts of interest and, by disclosing them publicly, allows them to be on the lookout for actual breaches of ethics when they occur,” he said. said.

Discrepancies in Mr Adams’ account of ownership of the apartment emerged last year as he ran in a crowded Democratic primary for mayor.

For years, Mr. Adams left the apartment of his disclosures with the state when he was a state senator, according to The City, an online news publication. He also omitted ownership of the apartment on his disclosure forms filed with the Conflict of Interest Commission, but amended them retroactively in November 2021.

When reporters from The City and Politico last year asked about Mr Adams’ ownership, he claimed he had transferred his shares in the co-op to Ms Cowan in 2007 and had not lived in the property for years.

“Sylvia is the owner and has been for some time,” Adams campaign spokesman Evan Thies said at the time.

But an email obtained by The New York Times last year suggested the transfer had still not taken place years later.

In the email, which Ms. Cowan sent to the Prospect Heights Co-op Board of Directors on May 28, 2021, she asked the board to approve the transfer of Mr. Adams’ shares to her and named a person who could ” represent the board, Eric and I on the transaction” — suggesting that the transfer had not yet taken place.

“As I mentioned during the board meeting, Eric Adams (co-shareholder) has agreed to transfer his share of apt 1-K to me,” the email reads.

Mr. Adams’ spokesman said the transfer of ownership is still ongoing.

Asked for comment on Wednesday, Mr Thies said: ‘There are no inconsistencies.

On Wednesday, Ms Cowan could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Adams’ account is confusing on several levels, including the primacy of place he gives to his former accountant.

Gary J. Wachtel, a Manhattan real estate attorney, said he could not comment on Mr. Adams’ statements about his accountant without knowing the details of their relationship. But he said it would be unusual for an accountant to be involved in such a transaction.

“In the typical situation, the accountant has no control over or connection to the transfer of shares in the co-op,” said Wachtel, whose practice includes litigation and real estate transactions.

Normally, the owner would hire a lawyer to act as an intermediary with the building’s management company, which would usually act as the transfer agent for the co-op board.

A letter like the one Mr. Adams said he sent to Ms. Cowan “certainly does not effectively transfer the interest in the shares or the lease of ownership”, which gives a shareholder the right to occupy a unit in the building, M. says Wachtel. He added that if Mr. Adams wanted to reverse his decision, a court was unlikely to find the letter binding, both because it was not the correct method of transferring property and because it was not involved no payment.

Ms. Cowan also owns an apartment on the ground floor of another apartment that Mr. Adams owns, in Fort Lee, NJ. Property records show the mayor co-owns his apartment with Tracey Collins, who he described as his current partner.

Anne Barnard contributed report.


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