The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, has denied reports that it would purchase a South Korean-invested skyscraper in Hanoi, which is the tallest building in Vietnam, Korea Joongang Daily reported Friday.
The Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower. Photo: Le Quan
The US$1.05-billion Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower, built by Keangnam Enterprises, attracted much public attention recently after Sung Wan-jong, the former chairman of Keangnam, committed suicide amid investigations into his secret dealings with top South Korean politicians.
The company that operates the Hanoi building, Keangnam Vina, allegedly cooked accounting books to hide mounting debts during construction.
On Wednesday, some South Korean news website reported that the QIA agreed to buy the building for $800 million and gained exclusive rights for the ensuing negotiations.
But the Korea Joongang Daily reported Friday that Bahn Joo-hyun, managing director of a New York-based real estate firm and nephew of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is suspected of stringing along Keangnam and its creditors when he took charge of selling the building.
He allegedly faked a letter from the QIA saying it was basically a done deal, according to the report.
“We are awaiting our Chief Executive Officer’s approval and the Board of Directors of QIA has preliminarily agreed to allocate funds for this transaction,” the report quote the fake letter as saying. “QIA expects to execute and perform the proposed contracts by end of the month barring any unforeseen events.”
Keangnam Enterprises handed over the document to its creditors in March.
QIA denies the letter, the Korea Joongang Daily reported.
“It’s completely fake,” a QOA official was quoted as saying. “They even faked my signature, and we don’t even know Keangnam, the seller.”
Construction of the Keangnam Hanoi Landmark Tower was completed in 2011. The complex consists of one 72-story office tower that rises 350 meters and two 48-story residential towers.
In 2013, Keangnam decided to sell the building to relieve its financial difficulties.
According to the Korea Joongang Daily, Ban Ki-sang, the younger brother of the UN secretary general, served as Keangnam’s senior adviser for seven years. He recommended that his son be given the exclusive right to sell the building when Keangnam decided to sell the building.
After Bahn Joo-hyun claimed that the QIA was interested, Keangnam gave him a 600 million won ($552,462) advance on condition he acquire QIA’s letter of intent to buy the building.