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Qatar wealth fund buys troubled New York hotel

The Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan was previously owned by a group which included fugitive financier Jho Low Creative Commons/ajay_suresh
The Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan was previously owned by a group which included fugitive financier Jho Low

A luxury Manhattan hotel, which has been on the market for a number of years after being caught up in the 1MBD Malaysian investment fund scandal, has been sold to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

The Qatar Investment Authority has bought the 46-storey Park Lane Hotel for almost $623 million, according to city records, as first reported by PincusCo.

The hotel was previously owned by a group which included fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low. Low was convicted last year on US corruption charges after it emerged in 2015 that billions of dollars had been siphoned off from 1MBD.

The businessman is accused of leading the embezzlement of $1 billion from state-owned investor 1MDB through Kuwait and several other countries, including safe havens such as the British Virgin Islands.

In March a Kuwaiti court sentenced Low in absentia to 10 years in prison for his role in the money laundering, ordering him to return $1 billion to 1MDB and handing out a fine of KD145 million ($472 million).

The US Justice Department had wanted to seize the hotel – which has 442,000 square feet of built space and overlooks Central Park – as part of its investigation into Low. However a deal was reached with the owners, led by developer Steven Witkoff, to sell the hotel and hold Low’s share of the proceeds in escrow.

Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala invested $140 million in the hotel in 2019 after Low agreed to drop his claims to the property in a US forfeiture lawsuit.

The Qatar Investment Authority was ranked as the ninth largest commercial owner in New York in 2017. The fund paid $310 million to purchase the St Regis Hotel in the city in 2019.

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