Transit Agency Takes Offense, Blasts State Comptroller DiNapoli's Office

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is accused playing favorites and giving Apple an unfair advantage in the bidding for setting up shop in Grand Central Terminal.

An audit by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office charges that the MTA allowed Apple to make it difficult for rivals to get in a bid by requiring that potential tenants be willing to front $5 million in cash within a 30-day window.

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In the end, no other company made an offer on the space.

Apple had been talking exclusively and privately with the MTA for more than two years leading up to the bidding process, according to the audit.

“There obviously was a lot of discussion and side agreements being made prior to that,” DiNapoli told reporters, including CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

“While Apple may turn out to be a good tenant, the MTA set a troubling precedent when it played favorites and gave Apple a competitive edge over others for the Grand Central space,” DiNapoli added.

EXTRA: Read The Full Audit Report (pdf)

MTA Chief Joseph Lhota released the following statement in response to the audit.

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“Remember Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s old adage, ‘You have the right to your opinion, you don’t have the right to your own facts?’ This audit is not fact-based, and accordingly, their opinion is worthless. The MTA’s lease process with Apple was open, transparent and followed both the spirit and letter of the law.

“The overt bias against the MTA and Apple in this audit is breathtaking. Trust, honesty, humility, transparency and accountability are the building blocks of a positive reputation. It’s a shame the Comptroller’s staff who prepared this audit showed none of these fine qualities.”

DiNapoli contested his office’s audits are done with a commitment to professionalism. What’s more, the comptroller also manages the state pension fund, which owns several million shares of Apple, worth more than $1 billion, CBS 2’s Aiello reported.

“I think the fact that they didn’t really dispute our findings but chose to undercut it with labels speaks to the fact that we’re very much on the right track with our criticism,” DiNapoli said.

The Apple store opened at Grand Central last December. It occupies 23,000 square feet and brings in more than $100 million a year in revenue, CBS 2’s Aiello reported.

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