UPDATED, July 22, 2020, 1:00 p.m.: An Upper West Side condo is entangled in an international money laundering investigation.
Following an Australian court, a U.S. District Court is blocking any future sale of the 2,207-square-foot unit at The Aldyn at 60 Riverside Boulevard, because the property’s owners are the target of a criminal investigation stemming from allegations of bribery and money laundering.
Amit Gupta and Sushila Gupta, who property records show purchased the condo for $3.8 million in 2011 from an LLC linked to Extell Development, are being investigated for their role in bribing government officials of the island nation Nauru in exchange for access to its raw materials.
The current value of the condo is $3.67 million, below its original purchase price, according to the court order. No charges in connection with the criminal investigation have been filed.
Extell, which developed The Aldyn, did not return requests for comment. The Guptas could not be reached.
The condo is the only U.S. property controlled by the Gupta family, according to the court order. The remaining 18 properties are located in Australia and Singapore.
Of the 19 properties listed, 17 are believed to be controlled by Ashok Gupta, who was named alongside Amit Gupta in media reports for bribing a foreign government official following a 2018 decision by a court in Singapore.
Ashok and Amit Gupta were reportedly directors of a chemical extraction company, Getax, at the time of the bribery in 2010, and sought access to phosphate deposits in Nauru, the world’s smallest republic. Getax’s logistics arm was found by the Singaporean court to have participated in bribery, and was fined.
Australian media, too, found prior evidence of payments made to Nauru officials in exchange for preferential access to the country’s raw materials. But watchdog organizations have expressed concern about the slow pace of the Australian government’s investigation.
“There is a perception that perhaps the government doesn’t want this sort of investigation to come to anything much,” said former Australian supreme court judge Anthony Whealy, who served as the chairman of Transparency International Australia in 2016.
Australia’s government has been said to rely on Nauru, which it pays to run a controversial refugee camp that keeps would-be asylum seekers from crossing its borders. Critics had questioned whether the Australian government was dragging out the investigation because of concerns that it would hurt relations with the island nation. Voters in Nauru removed from office the government at the center of bribery suspicions in 2019.
Contact Orion Jones at [email protected]
UPDATE: This story was updated to clarify that the Nauru government at the center of the bribery scheme was voted out in 2019.