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Corruption: US Set To Seize $7m Apartment In Trump’s Building Linked To Congolese President

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The United States authorities have targeted an apartment in a Donald Trump-branded luxury Manhattan tower, where they are looking to seize a $7 million unit, prosecutors say was illicitly obtained by one of Congolese President, Denis Sassou-Nguesso’s children.

Yahoo News reports that a forfeiture complaint filed Friday in Manhattan federal court and obtained by The Daily Beast says 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 a luxury apartment in the Southern District of New York for the use of President Nguesso’s daughter.”

“That property is Unit 32G in the Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1 Central Park West, New York, NY 10023,” the complaint states.

The United States is seeking to repossess the property “because the funds used to acquire it are traceable to violations of specified unlawful activities and U.S. law,” according to the complaint.

Sassou-Nguesso, who has been described as a breathtakingly corrupt kleptocrat, has held power in Congo, almost uninterrupted, since 1979.

A past listing for the apartment says it is a corner space “overlooking Central Park and the Hudson River [and] captures the essence of the most sought after Columbus Circle neighborhood. Special features include: floor to-ceiling windows, 10′ ceilings, a gracious entrance gallery, living/dining room, a windowed eat-in-kitchen with washer/dryer, two bedrooms with spectacular views and luxurious baths ensuite, plus a powder room, capacious closets and a separate bar, ideal for entertaining. Sorry no pets allowed.”

Ownership of the Trump International Hotel & Tower is complicated, with the Trump Organisation managing the building and owning some units and hundreds of individual owners holding the rest.

On Monday, a Trump Organisation spokeswoman, Kimberly Benza, told The Daily Beast, “If this sale did occur, it would be by a 3rd party unit owner unrelated to our Organisation.”

The ties between Congolese first-daughter Claudia Lemboumba Sassou-Nguesso and the Trump International condo were first brought to light in 2019 by anti-corruption NGO Global Witness, which at the time publicly called upon the Justice Department to begin the process of seizing the two-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom unit. Sassou-Nguesso in 2014 paid a little over $4,000 a square-foot for the residence—a significant premium over the building’s median square-foot price of $2,521.

The apartment was procured via a byzantine array of shell companies and intermediaries who routed funds stolen from Congo’s public coffers through entities in Portugal, Cyprus, the British Virgin Islands, and Brazil, the forfeiture complaint states. The money finally ended up in the U.S., where Sassou-Nguesso and her enablers hired law firm K&L Gates to purchase apartment 32G “for the benefit of Sassou-Nguesso, using a portion of the laundered funds and embezzlement proceeds,” according to the complaint.

The complaint says Sassou-Nguesso was aware she could be rejected by Trump International as “a politically-exposed person,” and considered listing her cousin as the unit’s beneficial owner to avoid trouble.

However, Trump International officials told Sassou-Nguesso’s team that “it was ‘not a problem’ and that the information was ‘only for the condominium building,’” the complaint goes on. On June 24, 2014, a Portuguese businessman representing Sassou-Nguesso in the deal wired a $710,000 deposit to the condo’s seller, sending the $6,525,000 balance a month later, according to the complaint.

“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.

After the Global Witness report was released in 2019, the Trump Organization said that monthly common charges paid by condo owners did not go directly to Trump himself “for profit.”

According to the forfeiture complaint, Sassou-Nguesso paid some $250,000 in common charges between 2018 and 2022. It says they were paid “out of bank accounts in Luxembourg, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates” in the name of another Portuguese national fronting for Sassou-Nguesso.

Although the apartment has apparently remained unoccupied since it was purchased, prosecutors say they have reviewed emails from Sassou-Nguesso about interior design work to be conducted at the property, transferring, via her worldwide network, more than $400,000 to a Portuguese firm to carry out the job.

The apartment, according to the forfeiture complaint, “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.

Trump’s properties, as The New York Times once said, “have a long history of serving as home to people with checkered pasts.”

Former federal prosecutor Kenneth McCallion, a onetime member of an organized crime strike force that investigated potential criminal activities during the construction of Trump Tower, told The Daily Beast that dirty money has long been attracted to Trump buildings.

“They’d pay cash for condos, held them for a few years, sold them, and the proceeds of the sale would then be clean money,” McCallion said.

Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier owned a unit in Trump Tower on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue; alleged Russian gangster David Bogatin—one of at least 13 Russian organized crime figures who have resided in the building—owned five.

A Trump development in Panama was “riddled with brokers, customers and investors who have been linked to drug trafficking and international crime,” according to a 2017 NBC News investigation.

A hotel the former president helped build in Azerbaijan was allegedly financed in large part by oligarchs with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and at the Trump SoHo Hotel Condominium New York, 77 percent of units were sold to shell companies that paid in all-cash—an “attractive avenue for criminals to launder illegal proceeds while masking their identities,” according to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Trump himself and the Trump Organisation have not been accused of any wrongdoing related to the Sassou-Nguesso deal.

A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.

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Reps South Wes Caucus Condemn Activities of Acclaimed Yoruba Nation Agitators

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By Gloria Ikibah
The South West Caucus of the House of Representatives has condemned in strong terms the recent activities carried out by acclaimed Yoruba Nation Agitators, which have caused unrest and pose a threat to the peace and stability of our region.
This was contained in a statement signed  by Leaderof Southwest Caucus/Deputy Chief Whip, Rep. PAdewunmi Oriyomi Onanuga, Chairman, Southwest Caucus, Rep. Abiodun James Faleke and Secretary General, Southwest Caucus, Rep. Taofeek Ajilesoro on Monday in Abuja.
The statement reads: “As representatives of the people, we stand firmly against any form of unlawful behavior and violence that undermines the rule of law and the unity of our country, Nigeria. It is essential that all grievances and demands be addressed through peaceful and lawful means, respecting the rights and well-being of all citizens.
“We urge all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue, prioritize the welfare of our people, and work towards finding peaceful and lasting solutions to any grievances,” said Rt. Hon.Dr Abiodun James Faleke, Chairman of the South West Caucus of the House of Representatives. “Violence and lawlessness have no place in our society, and we call on all individuals to uphold the principles of peace, unity, and respect for the rule of law.
“The South West Caucus remains committed to upholding the values of democracy, justice, and unity in our region and the country at large. Together, we can overcome challenges and build a better future for all”.
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How I Made A Vow 34 Years Ago Never To Watch Tv Again – Pope Francis

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Pope Francis has disclosed that he made a vow 34 years ago to stop watching television.

The revered clergyman said he placed himself on the self-imposed ban after stumbling across a smutty show.

He explained that the vulgar viewing was so bad for his conscience that he had to place a TV ban on himself.

The Supreme Pontiff said he hasn’t watched the box for almost 34 years.

He said: “I was watching television in the lounge with my fellow priests.

“It was July 15, 1990, and some scenes of an adult nature, to put it delicately, were being shown — something that was not good for the heart.

“Nothing risqué, of course, but when I went back to my room, I said to myself, ‘A priest cannot look at such things.’

And so, the following day, during the mass for the feast of the Madonna del Carmelo, I vowed never to watch television again.”

His Holinesss, 87, said that one of the last things he watched properly on TV was the fall of the Berlin Wall – in 1989.

He, however, stated that there have been a couple of exceptions to his self-imposed sanction.

Speaking via his new book “Life: My Story Through History”, Pope Francis said, “Only very occasionally do I allow myself to watch: for example, when a new president is sworn in, or I watched briefly once when there had been a plane crash.

“I switched it on, too, to follow Sunday mass while I was being treated at the Gemelli University Hospital in Rome.

“But I didn’t watch the coronation of Charles III, the new British king, for example, or many other important world events. Not out of disdain, but because I made a vow.”

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Clark wants special taskforce to rescue Chibok girls

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Pa Edwin Clark, Leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has urged the Federal Government to appoint a special taskforce to ensure the rescue of the remaining Chibok girls held by Boko Haram

The elder statesman made the call while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday at a ceremony to mark the Chibok girls’ 10th anniversary in captivity.

While expressing displeasure over the failure of past administrations to rescue the girls, Clark urged President Bola Tinubu to leave no stones unturned to secure the release of the girls.

“About 90 of them are still missing after 10 years. This should be a source of worry and concern to any government.

“Tinubu should appoint a special taskforce with brave soldiers, who are competent and transparent and not nepotic.

“Their main duty will be to travel at all times to Sambisa forest or where ever these citizens are, to look for these girls and rescue them.

“In giving this advice, I also want to add that a time limit should be given to them to carry out this task.”

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