Embattled Nigerian energy tycoon offloads Sunny Isles condos in bulk

The St. Tropez complex (Inset: Olajide Omokore)
The St. Tropez complex (Inset: Olajide Omokore)

The man Forbes once listed under “Ten Nigerian multi-millionaires you’ve never heard of” is grabbing a lot of international headlines lately.

Olajide Omokore, a Nigerian oil magnate, was recently arrested for money laundering and corruption in his home country. And now a company linked to the high-flying energy executive has offloaded a trove of lavish Sunny Isles Beach condos.

County records show Energy Property Development, led by Omokore, just turned over 12 units in the St. Tropez on the Bay condominium to an affiliate of the complex’s developer, J Milton & Associates, in lieu of foreclosure.

Omokore’s shell company had picked up the 12 units and five more when the St. Tropez opened in 2009. The three-tower complex had made a name for itself by having luxe finishes and bay views, with only six units to a floor. It also gained notoriety for being a favorite among foreigners, with the developer saying that as much as 60 percent of its buyers came from abroad.

To support his real estate shopping spree, Omokore took out financing from an affiliate of J Milton & Associates, Beach Developers, for as high as $1 million apiece for each condo, totaling roughly $20 million. With his new units in-hand, Omokore began renting them.

Trouble began for Omokore in 2011 when the developer’s affiliate sued to foreclose on a batch of the condo loans, according to county records. He hired Adebimpe Nkontchu, a high-powered London attorney known for managing the money of Africa’s most wealthy, to help him sell the 22 units he had accumulated in both the St. Tropex and the oceanfront Sayan condominium down the street.

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Robert Frankel, an attorney for the developer’s affiliate, told The Real Deal that Omokore’s company had not been making mortgage payments, but the two parties eventually reached a settlement.

“They brought all the payments current, and they continued to make the payments,” Frankel said. “The principal of Energy Property found that there was not that much equity left in the units and decided to transfer them back.”

In separate deeds recorded over the past two years, Omokore’s company sold five more units to separate buyers at the St. Tropez, and three others at the nearby Sayan condominium.

Including the latest bulk trade to J Milton & Associates, 20 units of Omokore’s 22 condos on the barrier island have been sold for a total of $17.1 million. The two remaining units are in the Sayan building.

While he was trying to work out his lender dispute in Sunny Isles Beach, Omokore was facing a much more serious issue in his home country of Nigeria.

The nation’s government arrested Omokore, who chairs Atlantic Energy and founder of the Energy Resources Group, over alleged money laundering and corruption, according to a 2015 report from Reuters. The accusations arose from Atlantic winning an oil management contract worth billions of dollars without a formal bidding process.

“It was an arms-length thing,” Frankel said of the 12 St. Tropez condos turned over to the J Milton & Associates affiliate. “I don’t believe the transactions had anything to do with what’s out there on the internet.”