The Malaysian fund that's being eyed in connection to a scandal-tinged source of financing for One57 is now being investigated as an indirect source used to purchase pricey New York City real estate. The Wall Street Journal is investigating the real estate acquisitions of Riza Aziz, a film producer and stepson of disgraced Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib's finances are under investigation after $1 billion from fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) bound for another Malaysian fund ended up in Najib's personal accounts. 1MDB was ostensibly set up to aid the Malaysian people.
The Journal has learned, via documents on review and people familiar with the matter, that Aziz may have used money that originated in 1MDB to acquire a 7,700-square-foot duplex condo at the Park Laurel at 15 West 63rd Street for $33.5 million in 2012.
Aziz purchased the duplex, and another home in Los Angeles, from Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who the Journal says was instrumental in setting up 1MDB in 2009. Low has been tied to the financing of the stalled Helmsley Park Lane Redevelopment.
The funds Aziz used to purchase the Park Laurel condo allegedly came to him through Aabar Investments PJS Ltd., whose name is similar to one of the sources from which Extell sought financing for One57. That fund's parent company is the International Petroleum Investment Co. (IPIC). Per the Journal,
IPIC said in April that more than $3.5 billion 1MDB said it sent to the IPIC subsidiary as part of its business arrangements with IPIC was never received. Instead, it went to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands, according to Malaysian investigators. IPIC said that company isn’t part of its corporate structure.
That money was then transferred to a company owned by Aziz, Red Granite Capital. Aziz's production company, Red Granite Pictures, has financed blockbusters like The Wolf of Wall Street.
Meanwhile, Jho Low purchased a penthouse for $30.55 million at the Time Warner Center in 2011. He was also the subject of part two of the Times' deep dive into shady foreign buyers at the Time Warner Center, "Towers of Secrecy".
- Malaysian Leader Najib’s Stepson Allegedly Funded U.S. Property Deals With 1MDB Money [WSJ]
- Jho Low, Well Connected in Malaysia, Has an Appetite for New York [NYT]
- One57 May Have Been Financed With Scandal-Tinged Money [Curbed]
- Owner of Downtown’s Priciest Property, a Walker Tower Penthouse, Revealed [Curbed]