While traveling on a U.S. State Department-funded tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man who backs the Cordoba Initiative, which would fund the construction of a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center 9/11 terrorist attacks, met with potential financial backers of the project, including current and former investors in a firm that formerly had close ties to New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo.
While in Dubai, according to State Department sources, Rauf met with financiers behind Emirates National Securitization Corporation (ENSeC). ENSeC is Dubai’s version of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which has developed a secondary mortgage system that is assisting in capitalizing residential and commercial properties that are collateralized by UAE based mortgages.xq
ENSeC was the brainchild of Andrew Cuomo more than a decade ago, when, as a senior executive of Island Capital Group LLC in Manhattan, he was credited with working with the UAE to create the secondary mortgage entity. Andrew Farkas is the chairman of Island Capital, and currently a co-finance chair for the Cuomo for Governor campaign; for many years he served as vice chairman of ENSeC before selling his interest to the Dubai government sometime between 2008 and 2009. Farkas also has had extensive dealings with Dubai World, and his relationship with Cuomo is a complicated and controversial one.
Between 2004 and 2006 Cuomo reportedly earned as much as $2 million from his time with Island Capital, which followed failed political campaigns in New York and his scandal-ridden time as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Clinton administration. Cuomo’s time at HUD included a sexual harassment case and abuse-of-office charges after he, according to the agency’s inspector general, attempted to have the agency target African-American mayors in investigations of potential housing fraud.
During Cuomo’s time at HUD, he also authorized an investigation of Insignia Financial Services, a firm owned by … Andrew Farkas. In the civil suit that Cuomo authorized in 1997, federal prosecutors accused the Farkas firm of paying $7.6 million in kickbacks to the owners of 17 federally subsidized projects that Insignia managed.
Farkas has no ties to the mosque controversy, nor does ENSeC. Cuomo — currently the New York State attorney general — claimed he would look into who was financing the so-called Ground Zero mosque.