U.S. Authorities To Seize Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso's $7M Apartment in Trump Tower

U.S. Authorities To Seize Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso's $7M Apartment in Trump Tower
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Evan Agostini; (R) Kena Betancur

U.S. authorities plan to seal a $7 million apartment in Donald Trump's luxury Manhattan property. According to the prosecution, the daughter of Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso purchased an apartment in the Trump International Hotel & Tower using illicit funds. As per the court documents obtained by The Daily Beast, the action concerns "the misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of hundreds of millions of dollars from the Congolese treasury, some of which was used for the purchase of the luxury apartment in the Southern District of New York. 


“That property is Unit 32G in the Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023,” the complaint states, as reported by Yahoo News! The U.S. plans to reclaim the property as the funds used to acquire it "are traceable to violations of specified unlawful activities and U.S. law." The listing of the opulent apartment on Corcoran describes the prime property as a corner space feature apartment overlooking Central Park and the Hudson River in the most sought-after Columbus Circle neighborhood. The apartment has floor-to-ceiling windows, 10' ceilings, a gracious entrance gallery, a living/dining room, a windowed eat-in-kitchen with washer/dryer, two bedrooms with spectacular views, and luxurious baths ensuite, plus a powder room, spacious closets, and a separate bar, ideal for entertaining.

Image Source: Getty Images| Photo by Ira L. Black
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Ira L. Black

Kimberly Benza, a Trump org. spokeswoman, told the publication, “If this sale did occur, it would be by a 3rd party unit owner unrelated to our Organization.” Anti-corruption NGO, Global Witness, first made public the connections between the Trump International condo and first daughter, Claudia Lemboumba Sassou-Nguesso, in 2019. At that time, the organization publicly urged the Justice Department to start the process of reclaiming the two-bedroom unit. The residence was purchased by Sassou-Nguesso in 2014 for more than $4,000 per square foot, which is a substantial premium over the building's median square foot price of $2,521. 



According to the forfeiture lawsuit, the apartment was obtained through a complex web of shell businesses and middlemen that transferred money taken from Congo's public coffers through organizations in Portugal, Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands, and Brazil. According to the complaint, after the funds arrived in the U.S., Sassou-Nguesso and her supporters used law firm K&L Gates to buy apartment 32G using a portion of the laundered funds and embezzlement proceeds. 

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On June 24, 2014, a Portuguese businessman acting on behalf of Sassou-Nguesso sent a $710,000 deposit to the condo's vendor, and a month later, the remaining $6,525,000. “In sum, the money used to purchase the Defendant Asset was a portion of the approximately USD 19.5 million of Congolese state funds embezzled through… sham contracts… and these embezzled funds were used to purchase the Defendant Asset for Sassou Nguesso’s apparent personal enrichment,” the complaint states. It further states that the apartment is traceable to a conspiracy to launder the proceeds of specified unlawful activities. “The Court, for the reasons set forth herein, adjudge and decree that the Defendant Asset be forfeited to the United States of America and disposed of in accordance with existing laws, together with costs, and for such other relief as this Court deems proper and just,” the complaint states.

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