Why was Seneca Holdings without a CEO for a year and a half?

Jordan Levy, a partner at Softbank Capital, recruited Seneca Holdings founding CEO David Kimelberg, who had worked at Softbank's Boston office as a staff attorney. Levy was the venture capitalist who unwittingly laundered former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's ill-gotten gains.

Seneca Holdings, the private equity arm of the Seneca Nation of Indians, has been without a formal Chief Executive Officer since June of 2017, when Dave Kimelberg changed his title to Strategic Advisor and, according to his LinkedIn profile, returned to private practice in New York City.  Kimelberg served was the holding company’s founding CEO, a role he held since 2009.

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David Kimelberg, Seneca Holding’s founding Chief Executive Officer.

It was founded to diversify the Nation’s economy beyond gaming, and it has been aggressive in leveraging tribal contracting preferences in federal procurement.

Jordan Levy has sit on Seneca Holdings Board of Directors since the entity’s founding.  The firm’s website no longer identifies its board members or executive officers.  Levy has had a longtime relationship with the often controversial former Seneca President Barry Snyder.

The change in titles came just as federal prosecutors in Kansas City indicted NASCAR’s Scott Tucker on a $3.5 billion fraud scheme involving payday lending at interest rates that exceed legal limits established by State law.

Because Indian Tribes can only be sued by the federal government, and Tucker’s company was ostensibly owned by an Oklahoma-based Tribe (which had no involvement in the call center’s operations), State Attorney Generals were unable to prosecute Tucker’s firm for violating those usury laws. Tucker, his accountant, and his attorney were convicted on racketeering charges in October of 2017 and was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison.

Seneca Holdings is known to have entertained proposals for similar arrangements — using the tribe’s sovereign immunity to shield non-indigenous investors from state laws — with a local call center operator from Amherst, and a similar lending business based in Manhattan, as early as 2011.

The holding company’s longtime Chief Financial Officer has since retired.

In the last two months, the holding company has named Jeffery Ellis, of Chicago, as it’s next Chief Executive, following a year and a half vacancy in the role.

Levy did not return repeated requests for comment.

It’s unclear whether the investment vehicle continues to invest in regulatory arbitrage opportunities, like tobacco imports, or whether it has narrowed its investment focus to federal contracting.

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