Money-laundering scandal puts condo on block

A property ensnared in an international money-laundering scandal to which a former president of Taiwan has pleaded guilty is to be auctioned this month by the U.S. Treasury Department.

Chelsea’s Onyx

The auction of the 1,1,78-sf luxury condo in Chelsea’s Onyx, at 261 W. 28th St., is scheduled for April 23.

According to the World Bank, which cites a U.S. Justice Department press release, the sale stems from a conviction by former Taiwan President Chen Shui-Ben and his wife for bribery, embezzlement and money laundering.

Alleging that the apartment was purchased with the proceeds of crimes for which Chen and his family were convicted in Taiwan, the government sought seizure of the real estate in U.S. District Court, Manhattan.

The Justice Department said the owner of the condo was a limited liability corporation (LLC), West 28th Street LLC.  It, in turn, the complaint declared, was owned by a British Virgin Islands LLC, of which the beneficial owner is Chen’s daughter-in-law, the former president’s wife and their son. The Swiss began pursuing the son and daughter-in-law on suspicion of money laundering starting five years ago, though I don’t know the result.

(If you’re curious how the deviously wealthy weave their tangled webs, you’ll want to know that the LLC, Avallo Ltd., is held in trust by the Knight Square Irrevocable Trust, an Island of Nevis trust, with a British Virgin Islands company, Global Fiduciaries Ltd., as trustee.  The daughter is beneficiary of Knight Square, and if you can follow all this, you’ve got a better mind than mine.)

Last August, Avallo agreed to forfeit its interest in a Virginia property as well as the Manhattan one in exchange for $225,000 plus $67,321 from the net proceeds of their sale.

The two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath unit 5B is described as having a chef’s kitchen with black granite countertops and top-end appliances, Wenge hardwood floors, limestone and radiant heating in the baths, soaking tub and rain-head shower, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Unit 3B, which is shown as having 1,265 square feet, has been listed for a year for $1.999 million with $1,460 in common charges and $561 in real estate taxes per month.  Total monthly costs for 5B are $3,117.

Unit 8B, which had an asking price of $1.695 when it went on the market also a year ago, sold in November for $1.6 million.  It, too, has square footage given as 1,265, so I suspect 5B is that big as well, but square footage always is squishy, depending on who does the measuring and what portions are included.

The sale is to take place at 2 p.m., with registration beginning at 1 p.m., at TRYP by Wyndham Times Square S, 345 W. 35th St.

To inspect the apartment on April 14 or 21 between 1 and 4 p.m., call auctioneer Mike Lewis at 281-236-0539.  However, you’ll need to supply him with proof of funds before you can see the place.

You’ll find much more information about the Onyx here.

Tomorrow: Virginal mistakes

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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