Walker Tower penthouse bought by company allegedly linked to UAE businessman Khadeem Al Qubaisi, for sale below record price of US$51 million, WSJ reports.
PETALING JAYA: A property named by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) in its civil forfeiture suit last year to seize assets purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB, is now up for sale, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A luxury penthouse in New York City, which was sold for a record price of US$51 million (RM215 million) in 2014, is about to be listed again but with a much lower price of US$45 million, the report said, citing people with knowledge on the plans.
Quoting an employee with the company listing the property, the WSJ reported that the unit is now priced to move.
“It’s a pedigree apartment, one of the best in the city, but the market is arguably a bit weaker on the luxury end,” the employee said, adding that he did not know why the owner wants to sell.
Authorities had previously alleged that the owner of the swank Manhattan penthouse in Walker Tower is 212 West 18th Street LLC, a company controlled by Abu Dhabi businessman Khadem Al Qubaisi.
The nearly 6,000-square-foot apartment spans the top floor of the building. It has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and 360-degree views.
The owner had reportedly tried to sell the unit for US$70 million in 2015, and had even dropped the price to US$55 million at a later date, before the US DoJ civil suits in July 2016.
According to WSJ, Al Qubaisi’s lawyers declined to comment on the rumoured sale, which is believed to have been made possible thanks to the DoJ’s move to suspend its civil actions on the 1MDB-linked funds, to pursue criminal investigations.
The DoJ also declined to comment on the asset linked to funds from 1MDB being made available for sale.
Lawyers familiar with standard procedure in such cases say the proceeds from a sale would likely be placed in a government escrow account, pending a ruling on the seizure request.
In July 2016, the DoJ filed lawsuits to recover all the assets including but not limited to the Park Lane hotel in New York, the Walker Tower penthouse, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, a private jet, expensive works of art, as well as the financing of Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
The DoJ had alleged that the assets were purchased with money illegally siphoned from Malaysian state-owned investment fund 1MDB.
Qubaisi is under investigation by US authorities as well. In its suits, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) sought to freeze about US$100 million of real estate in the US that he had allegedly bought with money embezzled from 1MDB.
The DoJ had alleged that Qubaisi had received about US$470 million of money siphoned from 1MDB.
Aside from the Walker Tower penthouse, the DoJ claimed that he had bought properties two mansions in Los Angeles worth a combined US$46 million. The remainder of those funds, more than USD$300 million, have not been accounted for yet, however.
In August last year, WSJ had reported that police in Abu Dhabi arrested Qubaisi.
The arrest was made following the Abu Dhabi authorities’ investigation into fraud and corruption, which included Qubaisi’s alleged role in 1MDB.
According to WSJ, Qubaisi had previously been restricted from leaving the United Arab Emirates and that his assets in the UAE were also frozen.
The DoJ’s action continued this year with more court filings in June, seeking to seize a further US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets including art works, jewellery, a yacht worth worth US$165 million, and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.
The assets named in the applications included the film rights to two comedies, “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and “Daddy’s Home” with Will Ferrell.
The DoJ suit also said Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) had purchased a 22-carat pink diamond necklace worth US$27.3 million for the “wife of Malaysian Official No. 1” (MO1), using the same source of funds.
With all the civil suits, the total value of the assets sought by the DoJ increases to US$1.8 billion (RM7.7 billion).
The DoJ charged that from 2009 through 2015, more than US$4.5 billion (RM19 billion) belonging to 1MDB had been diverted by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.