NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There were new revelations Tuesday about the mysterious money man behind the purchase of the so-called ground zero mosque, as two high-ranking politicians call for an investigation on the source of the money.
CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports exclusively that the Egyptian investor who put up a large chunk of the money used to buy the building for the mosque and cultural center near ground zero owns a health care empire operating out of a Bronx building that is now under scrutiny by the state’s Medicaid inspector general.
“If there’s any credible information about wrongdoing it absolutely should be investigated,” state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.
CBS 2 has learned that the facilities owned by Hisham Elzanaty, who gave mosque developer Sharif El-Gamal money to help buy the old Burlington Coat Factory on Park Place, are “‘on the radar” of the Medicaid inspector general for new audits.
A previous audit done by the inspector general for 2004 and 2005 of one of the Elzanaty establishments sought reimbursement for more than $331,000 due to “missing documentation” or “no documentation” to support the claims.
City Comptroller John Liu said he supports the audits.
“I think any kind of possible Medicaid fraud should be investigated to the fullest. Medicaid funding is absolutely critical for New York and we can’t waste any of it on fraudulent or inappropriate uses,” Liu said.
Last week CBS 2 told you about how the State Farm insurance company had filed a multi-million dollar civil lawsuit against Mr. Elzanaty, claiming that he sought reimbursement for unnecessary tests on drivers in car accidents.
With the evidence mounting, others think state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should take a look at where Mr. Elzanaty got the money to invest in the site.
“The attorney general has a role to look at all of this stuff. You don’t look at this any harder or any less hard because it happens to be a Muslim facility. What you do is you look at it to make sure the law is being observed,” said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, (D-Westchester).
The lawyer for Elzanaty said he’s not surprised that there would be more Medicaid audits, but he said it’s because the state has fiscal problems and they need to reduce the money they spend on Medicaid.
Meanwhile, the NYPD is gearing up for new demonstrations, for and against the mosque, scheduled for Saturday — the ninth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center.