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Qatar’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Acquires Park Lane Hotel in New York

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Qatar’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Acquires Park Lane Hotel in New York

Edited by: TJVNews.com

Edited by: TJVNews.com

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, has expanded its presence in New York’s real estate market by acquiring the Park Lane Hotel, a prominent property overlooking Central Park, as was reported by The Real Deal. The purchase price for the 46-story hotel, located at 36 Central Park South, was approximately $623 million.

The Park Lane Hotel has a storied history, originally developed by Harry Helmsley in the 1960s. According to The Real Deal report, Steve Witkoff’s company acquired the hotel in 2013 for $654 million, with initial plans to convert a significant portion of its approximately 600 rooms into luxury condominiums. However, in 2016, Witkoff and his partners, including Harry Macklowe, Howard Lorber’s New Valley, and Highgate Holdings, decided to suspend the conversion project due to concerns about oversaturation in the Billionaires’ Row luxury real estate market, as was noted in The Real Deal report.

The project seemed to be back on track when Chinese developer Greenland Group purchased a 41 percent stake in the property from Kuwait Strategic Investors. However, the Real Deal report stated that shortly after this transaction, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit seeking to seize the hotel as part of its investigation into Malaysian businessman Jho Low.

Low stands accused of orchestrating the embezzlement of $1 billion from 1MDB funds through Kuwait and several other countries, including safe havens such as the British Virgin Islands, as was reported in July of this year on the Asia Nikkei web site. The report also indicated that his given name is Low Taek Jho.

The Asia Nikkei web site also reported in July that the 1MDB scandal broke in 2015 when several news organizations reported that then-Prime Minister Najib Razak had channeled $700 million into his personal bank accounts from 1MDB.

Low is believed to be hiding in China since the fall of Malaysia’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional, or National Front, coalition, headed at the time by Najib, in the 2018 general elections, as was reported by the Asia Nikkei web site.

In 2017, the New York Times reported that Low was at the center of an international scheme in which the Justice Department contends that billions of dollars were stolen from a Malaysian development fund and used to acquire a hotel in Beverly Hills, mansions, condominiums, a yacht, jewelry, art and the Park Lane.

In March, a court in Kuwait sentenced Low in absentia to 10 years in prison for involvement with money laundering, ordered him to return $1 billion to 1MDB and imposed a fine of 145 million Kuwaiti dinars ($472 million), the report added.

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