Skip to comments.Dubai Royals Snatch Up Manhattan Real Estate
Posted on 11/10/2005 5:23:40 AM PST by Calpernia
The royal family of Dubai (Doo-bye), one of the wealthy Arab emirates, has bought two buildings in Manhattan for more than one-point-one (B) billion dollars.
The New York Times reports that the buildings are 230 Park Avenue, a 34-story tower between 45th and 46th streets, and the Essex House, an Art Deco hotel on Central Park South.
The buildings were purchased through two companies controlled by the royal family of the oil-rich city state.
According to the Times, this is Dubai's first foray into New York's real estate market.
The crown prince, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wants to diversify Dubai's economy. Dubai has turned itself into a tourist hotspot and an international banking center as well as tackled foreign real-estate investment.
Arab Royals Buy 2 Pieces of the Skyline
They are two trophy buildings in Manhattan, familiar if not instantly nameable by anyone who knows the city: 230 Park Avenue, the gold-crowned, 34-story tower that sits astride the avenue between 45th and 46th Streets, and the Essex House, one of the grand Art Deco hotels on Central Park South.
And now they have a new landlord: the royal family of Dubai, the oil-rich Arab emirate on the Persian Gulf.
One of the royal family's companies, Istithmar, closed this week on the $705 million purchase of 230 Park, known variously as the Helmsley Building and the New York Central Building. A separate Dubai company closed in September on the $440 million acquisition of the Essex House, home to Alain Ducasse, the restaurant which recently won a coveted three-star rating in the Michelin guide to New York City.
Over the past three years, Dubai has also quietly invested more than $1 billion in real estate in the United States, putting money into nursing homes, office buildings, hotels and thousands of apartments in Dallas, Phoenix, Nashville and Atlanta.
Now it is plunging into one of the most expensive and most lucrative markets in the world, New York. Essex House last sold for $250 million in 1999. A year earlier, 230 Park was sold for $225 million. With both properties, real estate brokers say, Dubai moved quickly, blowing all other offers out of contention.
To some observers, it sounds like Japan all over again.
Here comes our money back...we send it to them for oil..they send it back for our office buildings at a premium....
We should follow Japan's (I'm sure there are other countries as well) lead and NOT ALLOW FOREIGNERS to own AMERICAN land or property.
United Arab Emirates, which remains a cash-based society and is considered an important regional financial center for the Gulf region, because of its role as the primary transportation and trading hub for the Gulf states, East Africa, and South Asia, and with expanding trade ties with the countries of the former Soviet Union, it is regarded as having the potential to be a major center for money laundering. Money laundering may take place within the formal banking system, including the numerous money exchange houses, but is believed to be largely confined to the informal and largely undocumented "hawala" remittance system an undocumented and nontransparent system. The UAE government also has admitted the need to better regulate "near-cash" items such as gold, jewelry, and gemstones, especially in the burgeoning markets in Dubai. UAE acceded to the Kimberley Process in November 2002 and began certifying rough diamonds exported from there on Jan. 1, 2003. UAE customs officials may delay or even confiscate diamonds entering UAE from a KP member nation without the proper KP certificate.
The evidence at trial also showed that HOMA's principal business was transferring funds from third parties to accounts and individuals around the world, particularly in Iran. During the time GAVIDEL was operating HOMA, there was an embargo against trade with Iran, prohibiting all exports to Iran, including the financial services that GAVIDEL and HOMA provided. As the evidence at trial showed, GAVIDEL disguised his transfers of funds to Iran by sending them in bulk through third parties, principally a broker based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In total, between mid-1998 and 2000, GAVIDEL illegally transferred approximately $2 million to Iran through Dubai. Proof at trial of this offense included extensive accounting records maintained by GAVIDEL of his illegal transfers to Iran, as well as numerous intercepted faxes from accomplices in Iran and Dubai confirming the receipt and deposit of funds in Iran. Trial evidence also showed that, when questioned by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") about HOMA transactions destined for Iran, GAVIDEL falsely stated that, "at no point had business relations or the transfer of funds between [HOMA] and Iran existed" and described HOMA's business as merely an "importer, exporter and trader of various products in the Middle East and Far East."
Following GAVIDEL's conviction, he was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
Top Money Laundering Experts For Dubai Banking Summit
Colourful ex-felon on speakers list
DUBAI - Money laundering, a scourge of the worlds financial and law-enforcement sectors, will be under the microscope in Dubai in April at a global banking strategy summit, Channels, and one of the visiting speakers will know all about having a captive audience.
Among a host of elite speakers flying in from Europe, Asia, the Far East, Australia and South Africa for Channels 2004 from April 25-28 will be Humberto Aguilar, a one-time criminal defence lawyer- turned criminal himself, and now an anti-money laundering expert.
Miami-based Aguilar is clearly a case of set a thief to catch a thief. Aguilar certainly boasts first-hand experience, having been convicted in the US in 1990 for helping his clients defraud the Internal Revenue Service by hiding their illegally obtained funds in foreign bank accounts and for having participated in sharing revenues from drug importation conspiracy.
His professional duties these days include lecturing for Money Laundering Alert in Miami, Puerto Rico and Panama, a monthly column for Money Laundering Bulletin and writing for Offshore Financial Intermediary.
Aguilar also says he has been drafted in by the US Government to aid in the War on Terror.
I have been retained by the US Department of Homeland Securitys Bureau of Immigration and Customs Security to help thwart terrorism financing through money laundering activities.
Aguilar says he is looking forward to his Dubai visit where he will join more than 50 experts of international standing in the global financial sector who will take the stage at the Channels strategy forum over the four days as either speakers or panelists.
Venue is the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the exhibition for top-tier players in the financial service industry has been sold out for months due to regional executives being ultra-keen to hear the speakers and panel discussions.
Among globalisation, profitability and technology subjects to be featured at Channels are multi-channel delivery strategies, bancassurance, branding, product innovations and Islamic finance.
Channels will be the banking industrys biggest event in Dubai this year. It will be a unique forum that wont be afraid to deal with the thorniest issues, says event organiser Cordelia Henry, Conference Director for IIR.
Experts in the globalisation field will deal in depth with the Gulf States and the WTO, cross-border banking as well as mergers and acquisitions.
Another high-profile speaker is Joseph DiVanna, author of six books, whose lively subject will be Everything You Wanted To Know About Retail Banking in 30 Minutes.
Channels will be held against a series of significant developments in the economic mechanisms of the Gulf region. A number of Gulf states, notably Bahrain and the UAE, have embarked on pushes to be major international financial players.
Sources: Suspected terrorist leader was wired funds through Pakistan
October 1, 2001 Posted: 11:00 AM EDT (1500 GMT) WASHINGTON (CNN)
Excerpts: "-- As much as $100,000 was wired in the past year from Pakistan to Mohamed Atta .... the wire transfers from Pakistan were sent to Atta through two banks in Florida. Then, Atta allegedly would obtain money orders -- a few thousand dollars at a time -- to ddistribute to others involved in the plot in the months before the hijackings. Atta lived in Florida much of that time. ... sources in the Middle East confirm that Atta and two other men wired more than $15,000 back to the United Arab Emirates just before the attacks -- what may have been leftover cash from the terrorism funds. The money went to a man who flew out of Dubai for Karachi, Pakistan, on September 11 -- the day of the attack. Atta sent $5,000, according to the sources. His Florida roommate, Marwan Al-shehhi, wired $5,400. A third man, Waleed Alshehri, sent slightly more than $5,200......".." From CNN Correspondents Susan Candiotti in Washington, Rym Brahimi in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and CNN Producer Rich Phillips in Miami. "
Money Trail Leads to Gulf Accounts Probe: Three suspected hijackers wired $15,000 to an exchange house in United Arab Emirates on eve of the attacks.
By T. CHRISTIAN MILLER and PATRICK J. McDONNELL, Times Staff Writers
"..Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi...wired about $15,000 in cash to the currency exchange on the eve of the attacks. .... wire transfers to a man identified as Mustafa Ahmad, thought to be a financial officer in Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network.
..Al-Shehhi wired $5,400 to Ahmad, also known as Shaykh Saiid, shortly before noon on Sept. 10 from a Western Union office at the Greyhound bus terminal in Boston...
... Separately, .. Waleed M. Alshehri sent $5,215 to Ahmad from a currency booth at Boston's Logan Airport on the evening of Sept. 9.
.... Finally, Atta wired money to Ahmad on Sept. 8 and 9. ... Ahmad picked up the transfers on Sept. 11 from the Al Ansari exchange in Sharja... The same day, Ahmad used a Saudi Arabian passport to fly from Dubai to Pakistan.."
November 16, 2001
Much-smuggled gem aids al-Qaida
Bought, sold by militants near mine, tanzanite ends up at Mideast souks
By Robert Block and Daniel Pearl
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
A TRADE GROUP called the Tanzanian Mineral Dealers Association denies that bin Ladens al-Qaida has any role in the tanzanite trade. But in the bars and cafes that dot the streets of Tanzanias mining community, the radical connections are no secret. According to miners and local residents, Muslim extremists loyal to bin Laden buy stones from miners and middlemen, smuggling them out of Tanzania to free-trade havens such as Dubai and Hong Kong.
Yes, people here are trading for Osama. Just look around and you will find serious Muslims who believe in him and work for him, says Musa Abdallah, a Kenyan who has worked as a tanzanite miner for six years.
November 16, 2001
Much-smuggled gem aids al-Qaida
Bought, sold by militants near mine, tanzanite ends up at Mideast souks
By Robert Block and Daniel Pearl
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
ROAD TO DUBAI
Sheik Omari and Mustafa say they sell their stones to a prominent local dealer, Abdulhakim Mulla, who Mustafa says sends some of the gems on to Dubai. The dealer denies the Dubai connection. In any event, on a recent day Sheik Omari could be overheard telling miners to bring perfect stones to the mosque, because our market in Dubai only wants perfect stones.
To Westerners in the gem business, mention of Dubai raises alarms. For one thing, the emirate is known as a center of money laundering and the underground cash-transfer system known as hawala, much-favored by bin Laden. Dubai also has no gem-cutting industry. It lies far outside normal channels for the trade in rough gemstones, most of which go to Jaipur, to Bangkok or to a few other traditional centers of cutting and polishing.
Dubai is the kind of place that should throw up a flag that something is definitely askew, says Cap R. Beesley, president of American Gemological Laboratories in New York, which tests colored stones. When you see any rechanneling through nontraditional destinations like Dubai, it means someone is finding some financial incentive not to play by the book.
U.S. law-enforcement officials have identified Dubai as a haven for al-Qaida business interests. The FBI and the Treasury Department are currently trying to help the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, to crack down on the abuse of Dubais free-trade zones by terrorists and criminals. While this effort mainly focuses on gold smuggling, the U.S. also has reports that al-Qaida uses tanzanite as a way to move funds around the world, says a U.S. government investigator familiar with Dubai.
Out of more than 12,000 pounds of official tanzanite exports from Tanzania last year, a mere 13 pounds were sold to Dubai dealers. But Magyane estimates that a hundred times that amount actually made its way to Dubai, through smuggling.
In Dubai, on a strip of small jewel shops along a creek, Africans often go door to door trying to sell plastic bags full of unrefined gold and sometimes uncut gemstones for cash. D.B. Siroya, an Indian dealer based in Dubai for two decades, says he has sometime acquired rough tanzanite in Dubai on behalf of Indian friends, buying from sellers he knows.
The cash element is part of what makes the gem trade attractive to al-Qaida, according to Wechsler, the former U.S. counterterrorism official. He says the gem business is also attractive because it is tiered, with many layers of brokers, traders, cutters, polishers and wholesalers between miner and consumer.
A U.S. government-funded report last year for Tanzanias mining industry noted that the countrys gem industry was subject to abuse by money launderers, arms and drug dealers. Afgem Ltd., a South African mining company, has been trying to change that. It advocates branding tanzanite stones with tiny laser-etched logos and bar codes, plus other regulations to discourage smuggling. But its plan last year ignited clashes with small miners, who, Tanzanian intelligence claims, were funded by foreigners with a stake in the current loose system.
The many tiers in the business make it possible for unsavory players to get in and out without leaving much of a trace. In the U.S. jewelry industry, which consumes nearly 80 percent of tanzanite gems, many participants say they have heard industry reports of tanzanite links to al-Qaida only recently, and tend to discount them.
QVC Inc. says it has met with its seven tanzanite vendors to make sure they comply with its ethics code, which says QVC wont knowingly deal in gemstones that originate from a group or a country which engages in illegal, inhumane or terrorist activities. Darlene Daggett, executive vice president of merchandising, says that if tanzanite definitively can be linked to terrorist activities, we will not continue to sell it.
Zale Corp. says it has heard bits and pieces about such a link, but not enough to know if it needs to change procedures. It comes down to knowing who we do business with and knowing where they get their stones, says spokeswoman Sue Davidson. But all we really know is what theyre telling us. Without some kind of gemstone authorization, certification and tracking system in place, we cannot guarantee that no stone has been smuggled.
Zale CEO Robert DiNicola adds: If it came to light that there is a problem with tanzanite, we wouldnt deal with it.
Jewelers of America, a retail jewelers trade group, says it has been focusing on the far more significant consequences to human life of blood diamonds, those whose sale helps to fuel African conflicts. Im not suggesting we are not willing to look at other connections, but we need more information, says the groups chief executive, Matthew Runci.
Why not? They can't take the land out of the country. Even if they took the buildings apart, brick by brick, and took them back to the middle east, the land would still be there. I remember the hugh flap in the 80's about the Japanese buying up buildings here. Same deal; they can't take it with them.
Reciprocity is the answer.....you can't buy certain items here cause I can't buy them in your country.....
Alongside the importance of finding fugitive terrorists and assessing military options, tackling terrorist financing and sharing intelligence are paramount. Especially relevant in this case are Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Saudi officials are keen to stress their cooperation with the United States in the war on terrorism, and their cooperation on the law enforcement and intelligence fronts is reportedly rather strong. Terrorist financing remains a very sensitive issue, however. At minimum, the Saudis have long exhibited a pattern of looking the other way when funds are used for extremist purposes.
As a major financial centre, the UAE -- Sharjah and Dubai in particular -- is also a major concern to U.S. officials: the untraceable hawala money-transfer operators, the gold market, drug smuggling, and unregulated air cargo traffic from the Emirates to Afghanistan and beyond.
In both the Saudi and UAE cases, the United States must express its willingness to work discreetly with their respective officials to address these issues, while at the same time firmly indicating that the events of September 11 have lowered the threshold of tolerance -- that behavior which may have been acceptable last August is no longer acceptable today.
Are you afraid they're going to take these buildings back to Dubai?
June 25, 2001: Hijacker Fayez Banihammad opens a bank account in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 9/11 paymaster "Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi." That name is a likely alias for Saeed Sheikh, who is known to frequently visit Dubai in this time period (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001 and September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002). [MSNBC, 12/11/01] Banihammad flies to the US the next day (see April 23-June 29, 2001). Banihammad gives power of attorney to "al-Hawsawi" on July 18, and then "al-Hawsawi" sends Banihammad Visa and ATM cards in Florida. Banihammad uses the Visa card to buy his airplane ticket for 9/11. [Washington Post, 12/13/01, MSNBC, 12/11/01] The same pattern of events occurs for some other hijackers, though the timing is not fully known. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02] Visa cards are given to several other hijackers in Dubai. [London Times, 12/1/01] Other hijackers, including Hani Hanjour, Abdulaziz Alomari and Khalid Almihdhar, open foreign bank and credit card accounts in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. Majed Moqed, Saeed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Ahmed Alnami, Ahmed Alhaznawi, Wail Alshehri and possibly others purchase travelers checks in the UAE, presumably with funds given to them when they pass through Dubai. It is believed that "al-Hawsawi" is in Dubai every time the hijackers pass through. [Congressional Intelligence Committee, 9/26/02]
Early August 2001 (D): The ransom for a wealthy Indian shoe manufacturer, kidnapped in Calcutta, India, two weeks earlier, is paid to an Indian gangster named Aftab Ansari. Ansari is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and has ties to the ISI and Saeed Sheikh (see November 1994-December 1999). Ansari gives about $100,000 of the about $830,000 in ransom money to Saeed, who sends it to hijacker Mohamed Atta. [Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Independent, 1/24/02] A series of recovered e-mails shows the money is sent just after August 11. This appears to be one of a series of Indian kidnappings this gang carries out in 2001. [India Today, 2/14/02, Times of India, 2/14/02] Saeed provides training and weapons to the kidnappers in return for a percentage of the profits. [Frontline, 2/2/02, India Today, 2/25/02] Note that this appears to be an additional $100,000 sent by Saeed to Atta on top of the $100,000 he likely sent to Atta in 2000 (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000). If it's true ISI Director Lt. Gen. Mahmood Ahmed orders Saeed to send $100,000 to the hijackers, it isn't clear to which $100,000 that refers (see October 7, 2001).
"Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi"
September 24, 2001-December 26, 2002: In 2000, the 9/11 hijackers receive money from a man using "Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hisawi" and other aliases (see June 29, 2000-September 18, 2000). On September 8-11, 2001, the hijackers send money to a man in the United Arab Emirates who uses the aliases "Mustafa Ahmed," "Mustafa Ahmad," and "Ahamad Mustafa" (see September 8-11, 2001). Soon the media begins reporting on who this 9/11 "paymaster" is, but his reported names and identities will continually change. The media has sometimes made the obvious connection that the paymaster is the British man Saeed Sheikh, a financial expert who studied at the London School of Economics (see June 1993-October 1994), who undisputedly sent hijacker Mohamed Atta money the month before (see Early August 2001 (D)), was making frequent trips at the time to Dubai, where the money is sent, and is also known to have trained the hijackers (see January 1, 2000-September 11, 2001)
January 22-25, 2002: FBI Director Mueller visits India, and is told by Indian investigators that Saeed Sheikh sent ransom money to hijacker Mohamed Atta in the US (see Early August 2001 (D)). In the next few days, Saeed is publicly blamed for his role with gangster Aftab Ansari in financing Atta and organizing the Calcutta terrorist attack (see January 22, 2002). [Press Trust of India, 1/22/02, Los Angeles Times, 1/23/02, Independent, 2/24/02, AFP, 1/27/02, Telegraph, 1/27/02] Meanwhile, on January 23, Saeed helps kidnap reporter Daniel Pearl (see January 23, 2002) and is later arrested (see February 5, 2002). Also on January 23, Ansari is placed under surveillance after flying to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On January 24, Mueller and US Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlin discuss Saeed at a previously scheduled meeting with Pakistani President Musharraf. Apparently Saeed's role in Pearl's kidnapping is not yet known. [AP, 2/24/02] Mueller then flies to Dubai on his way back to the US to pressure the government there to arrest Ansari and deport him to India. Ansari is arrested on February 5 and deported 4 days later (see February 9, 2002 (C)). [AP, 2/10/02, Frontline, 2/16/02, India Today, 2/25/02]
February 9, 2002 (C): Gangster Aftab Ansari is deported to India. He was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on February 5 (see January 22, 2002 and January 22-25, 2002). [Independent, 2/10/02] He admits funding terrorist attacks through kidnapping ransoms (see Early August 2001 (D)), and building a network of arms and drug smuggling. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 2/11/02] He later also admits to close ties with the ISI and Saeed Sheikh, whom he befriended in prison (see November 1994-December 1999). [Press Trust of India, 5/13/02]
That's not a very good idea. The Japanese used their American dollars to buy a perfectly worthless tire company and some hotels where they also lost their shirts.
Let them buy it...we can just take it back.....or buy it back when the market tanks again......like we did with the Japanese
"We should follow Japan's (I'm sure there are other countries as well) lead and NOT ALLOW FOREIGNERS to own AMERICAN land or property."
Why not? They're pumping money into the US economy.
" Reciprocity is the answer.....you can't buy certain items here cause I can't buy them in your country....."
You want to emulate Mexico's economic system....? Bizarre.
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