JSR Capital L.L.C website photo
A Picture Paints 1000 Words,
JSR Capital L.L.C
23 Wall Street
LostMessiah and Help from Our Friends, April 10, 2016
What Do Sonangol, A Hong Kong Company with US offices in Houston and business run out of Angola, JSR Capital L.L.C., Africa Israel (a former place of employ of Rechnitz), the former JPMorgan building at 23 Wall Street in New York, Cushman & Wakefield and Sam Pa have in common?
Well… the photograph above comes from the Website of JSR Capital L.L.C. as its featured photo, presumably representing a key investment. The property is listed as owned by Sonangol China. Cushman & Wakefield is presumably the leasing/rental company. If the website of JSR Capital L.L.C. says anything, Rechnitz is the key…
23 WALL STREET
In 2014, the New York Post referred to 23 Wall Street as one of New York’s greatest real estate mysteries.
In 2015, the Real Deal reported that Latitude 360 had purchased the property with plans to turn it into an “entertainment hub,” capitalizing on the tourism that frequents Wall Street. The only obstacle, according to that article in 2015 was the opposition by the community board which saw problems with turning that location into a hospitality space (see pictures on EventActive site).
In December of 2016, the New York Times reported on a $3M gamble being bet on turning the location into something of a creative museum “spectacle of sorts.” The person behind that gamble was, at the time, Simon Birch, whose other ventures were displayed in the NY Times article.
We think that the key article in all of this is the 2014 New York Post article and Africa Israel (Rechnitz):
“It is one of the city’s biggest real-estate mysteries: Why does 23 Wall St., the great but neglected downtown landmark, sit empty?
The former home of J.P. Morgan & Co. is the dark and spooky side of foreign investment in New York City: a century-old, historic temple to commerce that has sat rotting for eight years.
It stinks enough when alien oligarchs gloom up our skyline with dark windows in condos they’ll use once a year. It’s doubly foul-smelling when the thumb in our eyes occurs at sidewalk level.
The old bank, as well as the ground floors of two adjoining buildings, have 100,000 square feet of precious retail space at the teeming corner of Wall and Broad streets — right across from the NYSE and Federal Hall National Memorial.
But the properties have been used mainly for infrequent fashion and TV shoots since a Hong Kong-based company called China Sonangol bought them in 2008 for $150 million. “They just can’t seem to finish making a store deal,” said one exasperated tenant broker.
It’s the only US holding of the octopus-like conglomerate, which makes most of its money pumping oil out of Angola, trading gold in Zimbabwe and building luxury condo towers in Singapore and Indonesia.”
In 2015, the New York Post reported that the building was being left to rot.
Sonangol is an “investment vehicle” of 88 Queensway, an octopus-like “trans-national network of over 60 interlocking companies” in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, as the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity called it. Although officially a “consultant,” Pa is understood to control 88 Queensway and Sonangol.
Pa’s whereabouts since his arrest are unknown. A woman who answered the phone at Sonangol’s US offices in Houston said, “No one is allowed to say anything. Everything has to go through Angola.” The phone number we were given in the West African nation did not work.
Why Angola? Sonangol pumps oil there and sells it to China.
But 23 Wall St. is its only US real estate investment. Manhattan commercial brokers say the former banking fortress’ 130,000 square feet are useless for anything other than an event venue. But to turn it into a true party palace would require tens of millions of dollars of upgrades.
“I don’t know where an FBI corruption probe of some NYPD cops and two businessmen will lead — but one of the suits once led me on an ugly wild goose chase.
After I wrote in November 2014 about mysteriously empty landmark 23 Wall St., I got a call from Jona Rechnitz, head of real estate company JSR Capital.
Rechnitz said I’d only “scratched the surface” and he’d share with me the “explosive, real” story of why the building remained vacant.
Rechnitz was formerly an executive for Africa-Israel USA. In 2008, A-I sold 23 Wall St. for $150 million to an octopus-like network of businesses under the umbrella of China Sonangol. Rechnitz was not involved in the sale, however.
In his photo-filled office — one showed Rechnitz with former NYPD bigwig Philip Banks, who’s among those being probed — Rechnitz wheeled in a procession of associates. One, a New York-area resident, was absurdly introduced as the “CFO” of Sonangol — a Hong Kong outfit with US offices in Houston that runs most of its business through Angola.
Rechnitz & Co. spun a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of intrigue as murky as the rain-pelted windows. The gist was that Sonangol had somehow been tricked into buying near-worthless 23 Wall St., and mistakenly thought it was buying the Clocktower on Madison Square Park (today the Edition by Marriott Hotel).
I listened in as Rechnitz, pretending to be alone, made scripted-sounding calls to two real estate players who claimed to be plugged in to the supposed hocus-pocus at 23 Wall St.
But when I later reached out to them myself — and to others Rechnitz referred me to — all clammed up or didn’t return my calls.
Then I left messages for Rechnitz — who also stopped getting back to me. I dropped the story because there was none to tell.
I had no idea why Rechnitz was trying so hard to interest me in a six-year-old matter in which he appeared to have no current stake.
But if Sonangol had been hoodwinked as Rechnitz claimed, it would have required the help of several well-known individuals with unblemished records — clearly the intended targets of the story Rechnitz wanted me to write.
Did Rechnitz hope, for whatever reason, that I’d rush into naming them without pinning down all the facts — which could have irreparably harmed their reputations?
On Wednesday, the New York Times “reported” that Rechnitz’s JSR owns 23 Wall — based on JSR’s misleading and dated website.
Sonangol is controlled by Sam Pa, a shadowy mogul who was arrested in Beijing last fall as part of a corruption probe.
No one knows Pa’s current whereabouts — or the truth about 23 Wall St. But if Rechnitz were inclined to shed real light on it, he now has his hands full elsewhere.”
For Interesting Further reading:
“A dissident former official of the correction officers union has charged in a civil suit that Seabrook placed $5 million in a hedge fund [Rechnitz] in return for favors, such as paying for overseas trips.”
Sam Pa: The fall of China’s trailblazer in Africa
“The secretive Chinese businessman Sam Pa doesn’t enjoy the limelight. His arrest in Beijing earlier this month, reportedly in connection with a major corruption inquiry involving China’s state-owned oil company Sinopec, is one of the rare occasions the spotlight has fixed firmly upon him.
Despite the best efforts of journalists and other investigators to discover more about the controversial businessman credited with spearheading China’s spectacular drive into Africa over the last two decades, he has remained elusive.
Even basic details such as his name and nationality are the subject of speculation. He was born in Hong Kong but different accounts of his life have him raised in the former British colony or on the Chinese mainland.
Then again, it has been reported that he is from Macau, Portugal’s former colony on the Pearl River. Or Singapore. One official report said he was Cambodian.
As with his origins, so with his name. His Cantonese name is Tsui King Wah. Other names he has reportedly used include Xu Songhua, Sa Muxu, Sam King, Antonio Famtosonghiu Sampo Menezes and Ghiu Ka Leung.
He reportedly has multiple passports to match his many aliases.
The mystery over his origins may be related to his former career as a spook. “All his life he’s worked in Chinese intelligence,” one source told the Financial Times.
While his origins may be opaque, his business dealings in Africa have been harder to obscure. Pa and a group of Hong Kong-based companies known as the Queensway Group have been at the forefront of a series of high-profile multi-billion dollar deals between China and African nations. For some, he symbolises everything that is good – and bad – about the astonishing surge of Chinese economic engagement with Africa.
Chinese investment in Africa has risen from less than $10bn two decades ago to more than $200bn. Fuelled largely by Chinese demand for African commodities as well new markets for its manufactured products, China moved fast to catch up with countries with historical links to the continent.
Motorways, hospitals and a host of other infrastructure projectsfinanced with Chinese money have spread across the country together with more than a million Chinese migrants.
Queensway Group, which describes Mr Pa as an “advisor”, blazed a trail across dozens of African countries including Angola, Guinea, Madagascar, Tanzania and, most controversially, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Key to the deals were his relationships with African military and government leaders dating back several decades. These relationships were developed, in part, during his time as a Chinese intelligence operative and weapons trader, according to a detailed investigation of his activities in Africa by US researcher JR Mailey.”
To read the article in its entirety click, here.