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US court gives nod for sale of Jho Low's NYC hotel
Published:  Feb 23, 2017 4:33 AM
Updated: 8:22 AM

A US federal judge has green lit plans by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and New York developer Steven Witkoff to sell off the Park Lane Hotel, which is partly owned by Jho Low.

According to the Wall Street Journal, US district court judge Dale Fischer made the ruling over Low's objections on grounds that Witkoff will "enrich himself at the expense of the Low claimants".

Court documents showed that Low had provided most of the equity when a group led by Witkoff purchased the 46-storey hotel in 2013 for US$654 million.

The sale of the hotel is part of a cooperation agreement reached last year by the US government and Witkoff.

The move was reportedly intended to stabilise the finances of the property and remove Low from the group that owns it.

Low, who had owned a majority interest in the hotel, later sold a portion of his stake to Mubadala Development Co, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund.

Mubadala had initially objected to the cooperation agreement filed in court by the DOJ and Witkoff earlier this month but has since withdrawn those objections.

A Mubadala spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

When the DOJ and Witkoff — who has not been accused of any wrongdoing — asked the court to approve the agreement, they asked the court to approve just the sale of Low's majority stake in the hotel.

Now the sale plan includes the entire property, WSJ said, citing court papers.

According to the judge's orders, Low's objections to the proposed plan was based on "unsubstantiated fears" that Witkoff was trying to enrich himself and that the latter would be "sufficiently checked".

Low has been accused as being one of the main figures behind the alleged misappropriation of billions of ringgit from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The DOJ, which is trying to seize Low’s assets, had alleged that Low used some of the proceeds from 1MDB to pay for his stake in Park Lane.

A spokesperson for Low did not respond to WSJ's request for comment. Low has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

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