Brandon Charnas, known as the husband of Arielle Charnas, the influencer behind the clothing company Something Navy, is reportedly under a criminal investigation for his alleged involvement in an insider-trading scheme.
Brandon Charnas, the co-founder of Manhattan-based Current Real Estate Advisors, was already being probed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for $385,000 the regulator says he made using potentially non-public information about a bid by Staples for rival Office Depot, according to Bloomberg.
However, the investigation is now also being pursued by the Justice Department over his trades, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
Charnas is named in court documents along with none others — including the president of Miami’s Fountainbleau Development, Brett Mufson; Jesse Cole, the former chief of NY-based fashion brand Haute Hippie; as well as Charnas’ business partner, Stefano Santoro, among others, per Bloomerg.
Many of the traders linked to the probe have known Charnas for years: Mufson and Charnas graduated from the University of Pennsylvania together in 2007, Bloomberg noted, while Cole’s venture capital firm invested in Something Navy, which Arielle Charnas founded after amassing millions of followers on social media by sharing about her New York City style.
Lawmakers are looking into Charnas’ whereabouts as of late December 2020, when Charnas met friends for lunch in Miami.
About an hour after the rendezvous, Charnas invested $31,000 in Office Depot call options — a five-figure bet that the office supply retailer’s share price would rise, according to Bloomberg, citing the SEC.
In the days that followed, Charnas and the other traders under investigation bought options and shares in Office Depot-parent, ODP Corp, the SEC said.
On Jan. 11, 2021, roughly two weeks Charnas’ lunch meeting in question, the stock surged from less than $30 per share to nearly $43 per share after Staples offered $2.1 billion for its longtime rival.
“You’re welcome boyz,” one of the traders texted in a group chat, while another said: “U the man,” according to SEC documents. It wasn’t immediately clear who sent those text messages.
A day after Staples announced its $40-a-share bid for ODP, Charnas sold half of his call options — a move that generated $385,000, a 653% windfall, according to SEC filings obtained by Bloomberg.
By Feb. 23, 2023, Charnas’ phone reportedly blew up with news that there was “unusual trading activity” in Office Depot ahead of earnings, though Staples’ ODP proposal fell through.
“Wow,” wrote one of the traders in a heavily-redacted exchange, adding: “moving markets!”
“Wow,” Charnas responded before another chimed in: “I’m in for tomorrow,” per a screenshot of the group chat the SEC used as an exhibit.
The SEC probe has been ongoing, focusing on a battle over a subpoena sent by the agency to Charnas demanding he hand over his text messages, according to Bloomberg, which earlier revealed the Justice Department’s involvement, which hadn’t been widely documented.
The DOJ’s criminal investigation is reportedly in its early stages, and it remains to be seen if Charnas and his fellow traders will face criminal charges.
Charnas has previously been represented by lawyer John Lauro, whose clients also include former President Donald Trump.
Lauro won a ruling in Florida that prevented the SEC from obtaining Charnas’ text messages — which the government agency is working to appeal.
Charnas has since tapped David Axelrod, a former SEC Supervisory Trial Counsel, as his counsel.
The Post has sought comment from Lauro and Axelrod.
Outside of the insider-trading scandal, Charnas works in real estate, per his LinkedIn profile, while his wife still touts her stylish outfits on personal Instagram account, @ariellecharnas, to her 1.3 million followers.
The @somethingnavy Instagram account has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years, and was set to be sold to apparel conglomerate IHL Group for a mere $1 before it pulled the plug on the deal just last month and accused the Something Navy team of poor business tactics.