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SF real estate investor accused of flouting city ethics rules

Victor Makras was found guilty in federal court of fraud as part of a broader corruption probe. | Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

A politically involved real estate investor convicted of bank fraud faces new legal troubles after the San Francisco Ethics Commission accused him of violating conflict-of-interest rules, according to a new filing

Victor Makras—who has served on a number of boards and commissions going back decades—now faces charges that he violated city ethics laws for failing to report income during his time on the Port Commission and another body. 

If the allegations are upheld by the Ethics Commission, he could face up to $240,000 in fines. 

The first of seven charges alleges that Makras failed in 2014 to report $70,000 in income he received during his time on the San Francisco Retirement Board as part of a loan scheme that resulted in his bank fraud conviction earlier this year. That scheme involved lying to a bank to help his friend, former Public Utilities Commission head Harlan Kelly, secure a home improvement loan.

The other allegations state that Makras broke city laws while on the Port Commission when he failed to disclose his financial interests in a property near a port project in Mission Bay.

Makras had a $1 million stake in a development next to the port project at Mission Rock. Makras owns five properties at a condominium complex at 188 King St., while his wife, Farah Makras, holds the title to another King Street property. 

City laws forbid anyone holding interests within 1,000 feet of a city project to participate in decisions that could raise conflicts of interest.  

The Makras Real Estate sign hangs above the sidewalk on Church Street in San Francisco. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

The Ethics Commission says Makras failed to recuse himself in all but one meeting related to the Mission Rock development during his tenure on the Port Commission from 2018 to 2020. 

On June 11, 2019, Makras participated in a closed session port meeting about development fees that would impact land values in the area, according to the filings. 

Then, on July 9, 2019, he took part in a meeting about streetscape improvements linked to the project. He continued to participate and even vote on other project details, some of which would potentially boost land value, the allegations say. 

It wasn’t until May 26, 2020, that he recused himself because of his King Street property, which lies within 1,000 feet of the project. 

Makras did not file a rebuttal to the allegations from the Ethics Commission and did not respond to a request for comment from The Standard. 

Earlier this year, Makras was convicted in the U.S. District Court for bank fraud over the loan for Kelly, whose own case is still pending. Both cases are part of a larger federal investigation that has so far resulted in the conviction of the city’s former Public Works chief Mohammed Nuru, who was sentenced to seven years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to fraud in January.

Makras and his wife are close to several powerful figures in San Francisco politics, including Mayor London Breed and former Mayor Willie Brown, who asked the judge for leniency on the investor’s behalf.

Victor Makras, Farah Makras, Sonia Molodetskaya and Willie Brown (from left) at a San Francisco Opera opening night gala in San Francisco. | Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at