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New York City probes Kushner Cos buildings over possible 'illegal activity'

[NEW YORK] A New York City regulator is investigating 13 buildings controlled by a company formerly run by Jared Kushner, a top aide to US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, over possible "illegal activity" related to work permits, according to public filings.

The online filings by the Department of Buildings show it is investigating the possibility of "false filing" on applications by developer Kushner Companies for construction work. The documents, dated Wednesday, involve properties in the Brooklyn and Manhattan boroughs of New York.

News of the agency's probe comes two days after a tenants'rights group and city councilman said they had found evidence that Kushner Companies had falsified more than 80 work permits involving 34 buildings in the city.

Earlier this week, spokeswoman Christine Taylor said the company valued its tenants, took its legal and ethical responsibilities seriously and would not intentionally falsify filings.

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"Any small amount of mistakes that may have been made, amongst the hundreds of filings, were obviously unintentional and remedied as soon as identified," Taylor said on Thursday.

"We intend to cooperate with the DOB to clear up this matter," she said, referring to the Department of Buildings.

The probe was first reported by the Associated Press.

The tenants rights group, Housing Rights Initiative, has alleged that Mr Kushner Companies failed to disclose the existence of rent-stabilised units in its buildings, thereby skirting tighter oversight during renovations and harassing tenants.

The group also accused the company of using construction as a means to disrupt the lives of tenants with rent controls and push them out. The tactics, employed by other landlords, have led to a drop in affordable housing in the city, the group says.

The building department's investigation was assigned to its marshal's office, which investigates allegations of unlicensed activity by plumbers and other trades and "develops cases for both civil and criminal prosecution," according to its website.