New owner of 1MDB-linked New York penthouse may remain, US judge rules

NEW YORK: A Morgan Stanley wealth manager can keep a luxury Manhattan penthouse he picked up at a discount after it was seized as part of the 1MDB money-laundering scandal.

The US Marshals Services sold the confiscated Walker Tower condo in Chelsea to Ron Vinder for $18.25 million in 2020. That set off a battle with the tower’s condo board, which voted to void the sale and sued to eject Vinder and his family from the building.

The US seized more than $1 billion in assets tied to the 1MDB scandal.

The Malaysian fund that was created to promote economic development was looted of more than $4.5 billion, with high-level officials using the money to buy real estate and other luxuries and even invest in Hollywood films.

The Walker Tower board claimed its bylaws gave it the right of first refusal on any condo sale in the building. It also claimed the unit was sold at a 64% discount.

New York Superior Court Justice Paul Goetz dismissed the condominium board’s complaint last Friday (June 17).

He concluded that it was flawed because it didn’t include the US government as one of the parties.

Naming the government was necessary because it had a stake in the case as it would once again be the condo’s owner if Vinder were evicted, he said.

"We are grateful that the court has rejected the plaintiffs’ unfounded efforts to evict our client from his home,” Vinder’s lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz said in a statement.

Lawyers for the condo board did not return a request for comment after hours last Friday. - Bloomberg

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