AUSTIN, Texas — Nate Paul, a real estate developer at the center of a federal investigation into Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, was arrested by the FBI Thursday, a move that came amid new questions about the men’s dealings raised by financial records the Republican’s lawyers made public to try to clear him of bribery allegations.
According to jail records, Paul, 36, was booked at 4:25 p.m. Thursday. The charges he faces were not immediately known.
Paul and his World Class company have been under investigation since 2019, a year before federal investigators opened an investigation into Paxton in connection with his relationship with Paul. The basis for the initial Paul investigation is unclear.
The Paxton investigation was triggered by a complaint from former lawyers in the attorney general’s office who alleged Paxton misused his office to intervene in legal matters involving Paul. The Paxton-Paul connection was a partial basis for a Texas House investigation that led to Paxton’s impeachment on May 27.
Paxton, suspended from office without pay, now awaits a trial in the Senate, where Paul has the potential to be a witness.
Paul has been entangled in numerous bankruptcy proceedings and legal battles with his debtholders in recent years, and he has lost a number of high-profile properties as a result.
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Earlier this year, a Travis County judge found Paul in contempt of court and ordered him to serve 10 days. Judge Jan Soifer fined him $181,760 for violating court orders, including making illegal transfers from bank accounts — allegations that Paul denies.
Two appeals courts temporarily stayed the ruling and Paul avoided going to jail.
On Wednesday, Paxton’s defense team showed a packed room of journalists a bank statement that included a 2020 wire transfer purportedly showing him, and not a donor, paying more than $120,000 for a home renovation.
The wire transfer was dated Oct. 1, 2020 — the same day Paxton’s deputies signed a letter informing the head of human resources at the Texas attorney general’s office that they had reported Paxton to the FBI.
The $121,000 payment was to Cupertino Builders, whose manager was an associate of Paul, state corporation and court records show.
The company did not incorporate as a business in Texas until more than three weeks after the transaction took place. A company of the same name was formed in Delaware in April of that year, although public filings there do not make clear who is behind it.
Last year a court-appointed overseer for some of Paul’s companies wrote in a report that Cupertino Builders was used for “fraudulent transfers” from his business to Narsimha Raju Sagiraju, who was convicted of fraud in California in 2016. The report described Sagiraju as Paul’s “friend.”
Paul, who also employed a woman with whom Paxton acknowledged having an extramarital affair, has denied bribing Paxton. In a deposition, Paul described Sagiraju as an “independent contractor” and said he didn’t remember how they first met.
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Contributing: The Associated Press
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