AUSTIN (TEXAS) – Nate Paul, the Austin real estate investor at the center of the Ken Paxton impeachment, was arrested on a federal warrant Thursday and indicted on eight charges related to making false statements and false reports to mortgage lending companies and credit unions.
This instance is one of many headlines Paul has created over the years. Some media coverage of Paul dates back to 2005, when he was a high school senior attending St. Michael’s Academy in southwest Austin, balancing time between college applications and acting as CEO of several self-made businesses, per an early Paul profile in the Austin Business Journal.
“Nate has the potential to be the next Michael Dell or Bill Gates if he continues on this course,” Paul’s college counselor, Charlotte Knepp, told the ABJ at the time.
And some could say Paul did not squander that potential. At 28, he became the youngest person to ever own a billion-dollar real estate company, per his company’s founder page, and was recognized in 2016 on Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 list. But along with his meteoric success has been a commensurate amount of controversy.
Paul was raised in Victoria, Texas, by his parents, who immigrated from India. He was born in 1987 and given the name “Natin” which he later changed to Nate, per media reports.
After graduating from St. Michael’s Academy, he attended the University of Texas at Austin for a couple of years before dropping out and starting the World Class Capital Group in 2007, a real estate investment, development and management company, according to a 2017 Forbes profile.
Since founding the company, Paul began amassing commercial properties not only within the confines of Austin’s booming downtown but in cities across the U.S.
By 2015, Paul told the ABJ that he owned more than 9 million square feet of commercial properties in 16 states.
Throughout the 2010s, Paul’s World Class Capital Group acquired many of Austin’s most recognizable buildings and venues – his company’s black banners ubiquitous around Austin’s downtown, per media reports.
Paul explained he was able to purchase his many properties because of low prices brought on by the 2008 financial crisis, per reports in the Texas Tribune. Paul’s World Class also owned and operated a storage facility business, which helped anchor his real estate empire, according to ABJ.
In the 2017 Forbes profile, the magazine estimated Paul was worth $800 million based on his holdings inside and outside of World Class.
Embroiled in Controversy
By 2018, World Class developed a reputation for buying the land beneath some Austin bars and clubs and then promptly evicting the tenants, according to the Texas Tribune. His companies were also involved in several lawsuits in the latter of the 2010s.
For one, in 2018, the Mitte Foundation, a former partner with World Class, sued Paul’s company to gain access to financial records, according to the ABJ. Then In 2019, the Hooper Family Trust filed a lawsuit in Dallas County against Nate Paul and his company, claiming Paul lied about the property to get the trust to invest.
On Aug. 14, 2019, the FBI raided World Class Holdings offices, but no charges were filed that year. Following the raid, nearly 20 entities connected to Paul’s World Class Holdings filed for bankruptcy, per the ABJ.
In July 2020, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stepped in and said he would look into potential improprieties during the 2019 FBI raid, per the ABJ. Of note, Paul had donated $25,000 to Paxton’s 2018 re-election campaign, and World Class employees told KXAN that Paul and Paxton were acquainted with one another.
In October 2020, top Paxton aids accused him of abuse of office, bribery and other criminal offenses for dealings with Paul. Paxton denied all the allegations, saying they were made by “rogue employees,” per KXAN reporting at the time.
Four of Paxton’s employees were subsequently let go after they accused Paxton of using his office to help Paul. They filed a lawsuit against Paxton, which his office agreed to settle for $3.3 million. Paxton proceeded to ask the Texas legislature for money to pay the settlement.
This request prompted an investigation into Paxton and led to the 20 articles of impeachment, many of which connected to Paul, being brought against him. The Texas House voted to impeach Paxton in May.
Amid lawsuits and investigations into his relationship with Paxton, Paul has continued to share inspirational posts with his followers on LinkedIn.
“To those that have exhibited disdain towards me: Sorry, I’m not going anywhere,” Paul wrote in his most recent post in March.