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Oil tycoon’s $51M One57 penthouse named in money laundering investigation

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Nigerian court tried to freeze Kola Aluko’s assets — including the $51M unit at One57

Nigerian mogul Kola Aluko, who owns a 79th floor penthouse at Extell’s One57, is just a little bit behind on his taxes: the New York Post reports that the billionaire is $25,000 past due on the property tax bill for his 6,240-square-foot digs overlooking Central Park.

In the greater scheme of things, though, that’s the least his problems. The more pressing concern at the moment is the fact that the oil magnate is currently under investigation both in Nigeria and in Europe for “alleged money-laundering crimes,” the Post says.

Apparently, a Nigerian court tried to freeze Aluko’s assets—including the One57 unit, for which he paid $51 million back in 2014. There’s just one complicating detail: as of last year, the Nigerian court wasn’t actually able to find Aluko to serve him with the papers, perhaps because he was too busy gallivanting around the world/evading charges on his 213-foot yacht, the Galactica Star. (The ship was spotted in Cancun last year and may now be in Turkey.)

It wouldn’t be the first time that dirty money was stashed in one of New York City’s many high-priced residences: Last year, the feds seized several properties—including a Time Warner Center condo and a $33.5 million condo at the Upper West Side’s Park Laurel—connected to the 1MDB money laundering probe. And many a scandal-plagued foreign investor has parked their funds in these so-called “safe deposit boxes in the sky.”

But Extell CEO Gary Barnett isn’t too worried about it: he’s confident those missing taxes will eventually get paid. “It’s not uncommon in a condo building, but eventually, everybody pays,” he told the Post, explaining that, one way or another, the board’s liens theoretically get paid off when the unit sells.

As for the possibility that the apartment itself was used to launder funds? Barnett doesn’t seem too panicked about that either, noting that authorities are only too happy when dirty money is used to buy something as immovable as real estate. As the Extell honcho put it, “The yacht’s movable, but he can’t move his condo.”


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