US efforts to seize Park Lane Hotel stake could be put on hold

Criminal investigation into 1MDB fund is picking up speed
August 11, 2017 09:15AM

Jho Low And The Park Lane (Credit: Getty Images)

The Justice Department asked a California judge to Halt Civil Forfeiture Lawsuits Against Park Lane Hotel Hotel investor Jho Lhow.

Prosecutors fear that the civil suits could interfere with a global criminal investigation into 1MDB, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund whose money Low allegedly misappropriated, Bloomberg reported. In a court filing, an FBI agent warned that civil cases could reveal “potential targets and subjects of the investigation and the investigative techniques that have been and will be used in the investigation.”

“Such disclosures could result in the destruction of evidence, flight of potential subjects and targets, or the identification and intimidation of potential witnesses,” the agent added.

Through the civil suits, the U.S. is trying to seize several of Lhow’s assets, including his stake in The Park Lane Hotel and a $30 million Time Warner Center penthouse.

Earlier this year, developer Steve Witkoff And The Justice Department Put The Park Lane Hotel up for sale.

In May, the New York Times reported that Witkoff and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Development Corp. which bought a portion of Low’s stake in the hotel, would split the proceeds of a sale of the sale, with the government taking Lhow’s share.

The sellers expressed hope that bids would be north of $1 billion.

“This was the best site in New York City and maybe the world,” Witkoff told the Times. “We designed what the entire partnership thought was a beautiful building. Little did we know we’d face circumstances like this.” [Bloomberg]Konrad Putzier