How shady Kazakh cash is building NYC’s poshest pads


What do two lavish new apartment towers coming to the Upper West Side and Midtown have in widespread? Connections to doubtful Kazakh cash.

Set to rise 755 toes, 50 W. 66th St. on the Upper West Side will finally boast 127 glittering residences — together with a grand 3,889-square-foot, five-bedroom unfold for $11 million, in line with the providing plan filed by Extell Development.

Designed by the futuristic Norwegian structure agency Snøhetta, the building will boast a pool, squash courts and a surprising multi-level out of doors terrace backyard.

Down within the Diamond District, at 570 Fifth Ave., Extell has additionally filed permits to construct a 1,100-foot supertall with 468 luxurious apartment models to affix his International Gem Tower and one other deliberate 534-key lodge alongside West forty eighth St.

That mission is nonetheless in its early phases, however count on penthouses paying homage to Extell’s different supertall feats: One57 (the place a penthouse bought for greater than $100 million) and Central Park Tower (the place a unit is in the marketplace for $65 million).

Applaud or detest them (as neighborhood NIMBYs do), these buildings are the poster youngsters for the way soiled cash from far-off nations is reshaping NYC neighborhoods.

Both 50 W. 66th St. and 570 Fifth Ave. have been financially backed by the mysterious personal fairness agency Meridian Capital.

Rendering of 50 West 66th Street.
A brand new über-luxury tower coming to 50 W. 66th St. is one among a number of new residential buildings funded by way of cash linked to the Kazakh elite.

Founded in 2002 by Kazakhstan’s former oil and fuel minister Sauat Mynbayev, Kazakh billionaire Askar Alshinbayev and high execs of Kazkommertsbank, Kazakhstan’s largest personal financial institution, Meridian held a $127 million equity position in 50 W. 66th St. and a $263.7 million stake in 570 Fifth Ave. (Extell boss Gary Barnett has since purchased out that place).

“They’re just good businessmen who made good investments. What’s wrong with that?”

An nameless supply near Extell

Incorporated in Bermuda, Meridian is a world funding agency headquartered in Hong Kong with pursuits in the whole lot from oil and mining fields to dairy farms, regional Russian airways and high-end New York City actual property, in line with confidential paperwork leaked from a Bermuda legislation agency and shared as a part of the “Paradise Papers.”

Mynbayev used his “power, contacts and official position to help Meridian grow,” in line with a report from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. “[Kazkommertsbank] provided the easy credit that made Meridian an empire … the group used a large portion of the bank’s deposits to fund project after project.”
But that doesn’t hassle NYC’s high builders.

Side by side of Gary Barnett and Sauat Mynbayev.
Extell boss Gary Barnett and Kazakhstan’s former oil and fuel minister Sauat Mynbayev.
Lois Weiss; AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

“We’ve known [Meridian Capital] for 15 to 20 years,” an individual near Extell (who agreed to talk on the situation of anonymity) instructed The Post. “They’re just good businessmen who made good investments. What’s wrong with that?”

The supply pointed to different Meridian offers — like a Russian dairy farm it bought to Danone, the French firm, and a Saint Petersburg shopping center it bought to Morgan Stanley for $1.1 billion.

“Meridian couldn’t do deals like that if it was dirty,” they mentioned. “Real estate is one of the cleanest industries in the world. If you want to launder money, get diamonds or art that you can transport. You can’t carry a building on your back.”

Meridian didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Today, Kazakhstan is on hearth because of the anti-corruption protests that began final week over fuel costs.

Inset of Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev over an aerial of an anti-corruption protest.
Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (inset) known as in Russian troops to quell anti-corruption protests.
Kazakhstan’s Presidential Press Service by way of AP; EPA/Alexander Kuznetsov

Some 2,500 Russian troops have now largely quashed the protesters on behalf of president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, with 12,000 individuals detained, the Post reported.

Real property in New York been “a favorite placement vehicle for kleptocrats, corrupt officials and criminals,” mentioned Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University. “Until very recently, the US government had almost no legal actions it could take against money laundering in real estate.”

But the Kazakh kleptocrats being protested again residence aren’t simply growing Manhattan, they’re shopping for it up too.

Inset of exterior of 55 Wall St. over an interior of it.
Bolat Nazarbayev, the brother of the previous president of Kazakhstan, Nusurltan Nazarbayev, and his step-son purchased 4 models at Cipriani Wall Street (55 Wall St.) for over $7 million.
Christian Johnston; Michele Taylor

Bolat Nazarbayev, the brother of the previous president of Kazakhstan, Nusurltan Nazarbayev, purchased a unit on the 18th ground of the Plaza Hotel in 2008 for $20.1 million. After a divorce, Bolat bought it at a loss for $14 million in 2018, in line with property information.

With his former stepson Daniyar Nazarbayev, he additionally spent greater than $7 million on a minimum of 4 properties at Cipriani Wall Street at 55 Wall St. (Daniyar was additionally busted dishonest his method into Columbia University, the Post reported).

“They came in 29 SUVs with guns behind them during UN week,” in line with dealer Dolly Lenz, who marketed 55 Wall St. on the time and recollects raucous, celeb-filled events on the building. “I had never heard of Kazakhstan. I was like, who are these people?”

When it involves 50 W. 66th St. and 570 Fifth Ave. — and the various different towers already developed utilizing shady cash — it’s time for each consumers and builders to begin asking powerful questions, Jack Blum, a legendary cash laundering and tax evasion skilled and former US Senate workers lawyer, mentioned.

“Why is Kazakh money moving to New York to build a beautiful tower to benefit very wealthy buyers instead of being invested in Kazakhstan?” he requested. “Can Meridian Capital demonstrate that its source of funds is legitimate? There’s a strong possibility that it isn’t.”

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