Earlier this year, the financial world was rocked when federal authorities seized a sizable stake in The Park Lane Hotel. The feds had been investigating whether a Malaysian economic development fund bankrolled the hotel with laundered cash.
The scandal ensnared global banks, high-profile politicians and New York City developers (even if they weren’t complicit in the alleged scheme). And while it serves as an extreme example of money laundering in Manhattan, it points to the city’s real estate as a prime spot to park dirty money.
In the cover story for our October issue, The Real Deal investigates how the rise in nontraditional funding for New York City’s commercial real estate may further open the door to questionable deals.
Meanwhile, in another shadowy sphere of the industry, we examine the underbelly of New York’s Chinese real estate scene for Chinese immigrants, a billion-dollar housing market that is quite opaque. We also looked at China’s biggest property tycoons in the New York City area, which includes the heads of Dalian Wanda Group and Anbang Insurance Group. Some of the moguls have unusual backgrounds, including soldiering in the Mongolian desert and marrying into the nation’s political elite.
Then, we ask: Are we about to witness the next “big short?” Increasingly, industry observers are sending out warning signals that the next real estate downturn could be around the corner, if it’s not already here. As a result, the market has seen an uptick in cynical investing.
A profile of the Qatar Investment Authority offers a closer look at the colossal Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund’s big moves in Manhattan. Though QIA has been investing in the U.S. for some time, it has taken a more aggressive approach of late.
Elsewhere in the issue, there are stories on developer Michael Shvo facing tax fraud charges, the Howard Hughes Corporation’s watered-down vision for the South Street Seaport, and some of the most explosive real estate lawsuits filed this year.
In our Closing interview, veteran developer Donald Zucker talks about his childhood in South Brooklyn, his aversion to retiring and his friendships with Bill de Blasio and Glenwood Management’s Leonard Litwin.
To read the October issue of The Real Deal, click here or on the “Magazine” tab on the top left of the homepage. Enjoy! — Miriam Hall