Filipino gaming billionaire Enrique Razon Jr. is said to have spent nearly $60 million in recent years on luxury real estate in New York City, including $24 million for fellow casino mogul Steve Wynn’s lavish penthouse at the Plaza Hotel.
But Razon allegedly bought those properties with money set aside for a casino project in Manila, according to his U.S.-based partner that claims it was cut out of the deal.
“Razon has invested significant funds from his Philippine entities . . . into various real estate and other investments in the United States,” the mogul’s dismayed partner, Las Vegas-based Global Gaming Asset Management, asserted in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court Monday.
The casino management company claimed that Razon, in effect, disregarded the Manila project’s corporate structure and treated its assets as his own. It is asking the court to place his properties into receivership until it can collect nearly $300 million the company claims it’s owed.
Razon, who could not be reached for comment, is the third-richest person in the Philippines with a net worth of $4.8 billion, according to Forbes. His father built a port-management company in the Philippines after World War II that includes 30 port terminals in 19 countries, including the United States.
The government of the Philippines in 2007 relaxed restrictions on gaming and casinos, and Razon reinvented himself as a gaming mogul in the vein of Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, according to the lawsuit. In 2011 he struck a deal with Global Gaming Asset Management, which is part owned by Howard Lutnick’s Cantor Fitzgerald, to help develop the $1.2 billion Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila, which Razon sought to make into the Las Vegas of the Philippines.
But after the casino opened, Razon filed a list of grievances with Global Gaming’s work on the project and terminated their agreement. Global Gaming claims Razon used his family’s political influence with Filipino authorities to tie up $196 million worth of Solaire shares the company owns in a Deutsche Bank account that it can’t access, despite a U.S. arbitrator ruling in its favor.
The company asked the U.S. court to compel Razon to abide by the arbitrator’s ruling and hand over $296.5 million plus interest. The gaming firm also alleged Razon used shell companies to hide his interests in U.S. properties, even though he and his family regularly spend holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Plaza penthouse.
“Razon uses these shell entities for the purpose of concealing his ownership of such assets from his creditors,” Global Gaming wrote in its lawsuit. It asked for a receiver to preserve the assets in case it wins a judgment and needs to collect.
In addition to the Plaza condo, Razon allegedly owns a pair of condos at 211 East 13th Street in the East Village, two penthouses at 21-30 44th Drive in Long Island City, a condo at 100 Barclay Street in Tribeca and two apartment buildings — 44 Carmine Street in the West Village and 11 Essex Street on the Lower East Side. The shell companies Razon allegedly used paid $57.28 million to acquire the homes, property records show.