Federal prosecutors are seeking to seize a penthouse in a luxury condo tower in downtown Miami that allegedly was used by the Republic of the Congo’s president’s son to embezzle money.
Denis-Christel Sassou Nguesso, a parliament minister and the son of Congo’s president Denis Sassou Nguesso, allegedly bought a 3,500-square-foot penthouse at 900 Biscayne Boulevard in 2012, according to a civil forfeiture complaint, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The unit was purchased from a company tied to Luis Peralta of Coral Gables, according to property records. Terra developed the 63-story, 509-unit condo building in 2008.
Prosecutors allege Denis-Christel Sassou Nguesso took the money from Société Nationale des Pétroles du Congo, the state-owned oil company where he held high-level positions, according to the complaint. He allegedly bought the penthouse for about $2.8 million with the help from an associate and by using an alias, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Nguesso allegedly took millions of dollars from SNPC while holding the position of deputy director-general of downstream operations, and took millions more in bribes and by self-dealing, the complaint said. Nguesso allegedly siphoned the money to bank accounts under the names of various shell companies and nominees to acquire assets, according to the complaint.
Allegations of money laundering in South Florida’s luxury real estate market are not uncommon. In 2018, Venezuelans allegedly laundered money out of the country’s state oil company and into assets throughout the world, including real estate assets in South Florida. The assets included a condo in the Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach, a condo in Related Group’s Icon Brickell and two homes in Coral Gables’ Cocoplum neighborhood. [WSJ] — Keith Larsen