Posted by News Express | 3 November 2019 | 1,222 times
A Manhattan condo bought with funds allegedly stolen from the Nigerian government has been listed for sale, at less than the purchase price six years ago.
An entity once linked to Kolawole Akanni Aluko, a Nigerian businessman, is seeking to offload a duplex at 1049 Fifth Ave. in coordination with the U.S. Justice Department, which is working to seize it.
Aluko, accused of bribing a Nigerian government official and bilking his country’s state-owned oil company, paid $8.63 million in 2013 for the Upper East Side apartment, which has 3,660 square feet of space and four bedrooms on parts of the building’s 11th and 12th floors, court and property records show.
Now, the condo is on the market for $7.15 million -- and needs some work. Demolition and renovation had begun on the upper floor, which is described as “partially constructed” in the Oct. 24 listing by Douglas Elliman Real Estate. “Bring your architect and vision to create a spectacular residence with a prime address.”
It’s one of the remaining assets the U.S. is seeking to recover in an ongoing case. Aluko and another Nigerian businessman are accused of defrauding their government and using the proceeds to go on a global luxury spending spree.
Previously, the Justice Department sought forfeiture of the Galactica Star, an $80 million yacht, properties in California and a full-floor condo at Manhattan’s One57 tower. That apartment was sold at a foreclosure auction by its mortgage lender in 2017.
Nigerian Attorney Aluko’s Lagos, Nigeria-based attorney, Tokunbo Jaiye-Agoro, said the Fifth Avenue condo wasn’t “obtained from proceeds of crime” and that he hasn’t heard of any plans his client may have to contest a forfeiture or sale of the apartment. Jaiye-Agoro said Aluko has lawyers in other places so he may not have the most up-to-date information about the New York property.
The Justice Department is in the process of seizing the Fifth Avenue property while contending with others who have a claim on proceeds of a sale, according to department spokesman Peter Carr. The condo board at the building has argued in court records that it’s owed $114,000 in unpaid common charges, plus interest.
Meanwhile, another entity, LightRay Capital, claims it owns the property and is fighting the government’s recovery effort. Yasin Almadani, a California lawyer who represents LightRay, said the firm bought the shell company that Aluko used to purchase the condo prior to the Justice Department’s action.
“We are saying that we are innocent owners and they should not be able to seize it,” Almadani said in an interview. “We are not connected to Aluko, we are not controlled by Aluko. I don’t know what the dude looks like.”
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