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Asia's top 5 controversial London investors
Jul 05, 2012
London is all the rage now less than one month before the Olympics games kick off. But the metropole has long been considered a safe haven for investors looking for a place to deposit their hard earned money. Some more high profile than others and some more hard earned than others: here is a list of some of the most controversial Asian investors in London.
The apartment in London that Thaksin allegedly owns
Thaksin Shinawatra, former Prime Minister of Thailand
How it was made: Overthrown by the military in 206, Thaksin's government was accused of corruption, authoritarianism and treason, among others, while Thaksin himself is accused of tax evasion and corruption, among others.
How it was spent: After the coup in 2006, Thaksin allegedly fled to Maple Lodge on Marloes Road in London, an apartment in which is daughther stayed during her studies. According to sources, the apartment was priced at THB320 million (US$10.1 million) in 2006.
Coleherne Court where Lady Diana styed before marrying the Prince of Wales. Now reportedly owned by Bo Xilai's family.
Bo Xilai, former Communist party boss of Chongqing province in China
How it was made: Accused of corruption and following a scandal which evolves around the mysterious murder of Neil Heywood, a British business man, of which Xilai's wife has been accused, the Chongqing head was removed from his post.
How it was spent: In the end of June this year, the FT ran a story reveiling that the family of Xilai bought luxury proeprties in London between May 2002 and May 2003 through a front company registered in the British Virgin Islands. According to FT.com, the properties in question include an apartment in South Kensington's Coleherne Court, which is the building in which Lady Diana stayed before her marriage to the Prince of Wales. The flat is reportely valued at GBP1.5 million (US$2.3 million), while another flat was bought by the front company for GBP460,000 (US$717,988) and sold in January for just under GBP700,000 (US$1.1 million).
Abdul Taib Mahmoud's London flat
Abdul Taib Mahmoud, Chief Minister of Sarawak
How it was made: Also the Financial Minister and the Resource Planning and Environment Minister of resource-rich Sarawak, Abdul Taib is regularly accused of corruption and accepting bribery from logging companies operating in Sarawak. Indigenous communities, various NGOs and the Malaysian editor-general have also complained of violent coercion by police and logging industry enforcers and '”unsatisfactory” forest management.
How it was spent: The Taib family allegedly owns a 4,000+ sqft apartment in Hampshire House overlooking Hyde Park just a stone's throw away from Oxford Street and Marble Arch. The apartment is reportedly worth a cool GBP8.5 million (US$13.3 million).
An artist's impression of the regeneration of Seagrave Road carpark, of which the Kwok brothers own 50 percent.
Thomas and Raymond Kwok, billionaire co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties
How it was made: Thomas and Raymond Kwok was arrested in March this year in a highly-publiscised corruption probe involving senior government officials.
How it was spent: A Kwok family trust has a 50 percent stake in developer Capco, which has plans to turn the Seagrave Road carpark in Earl's Court into an 808-home development. The project is part of a controversial regeneration plan for the area that involves mass demolition of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington estates.
Nursultan Nazarbayev's 'secret' mansion
Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakstan
How it was made: Nazarbayev's family is regularly accused of corruption and has more than once found itself under investigation by Western governments into money laundering, bribery and assassinations. The US-led 'Kazakhgate' was an investigation into the relationship between Nazarbayev and James Griffen, an American businessman accused of paying bribes to Nazarbayev in exchange for oil field contracts. The investigation in the end did not find the President guilty and the case closed in 2010.
How it was spent: In late 2008 it was reported that Nazarbayev has secretly bought a GBP50 million (US$77.9 million) mansion on The Bishops Avenue, one of the most expensive areas in north London and often referred to as 'Millionaire Row'.