Sanctioned Venezuelan avoids New York apartment auction

NEW YORK, July 7 (Reuters) – A U.S.-sanctioned Venezuelan media mogul says he has been given permission by Washington to make the necessary payments to avoid losing a luxury apartment in New York.

Raul Gorrin, owner of the Venezuelan television channel Globovision and ally of socialist President Nicolas Maduro, told Reuters on Wednesday evening that he had received a license from the US Treasury Department to pay the $650,000 he owes the council. administration of the building and in New York. Town.

The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) license avoided a public auction of the property that had been set for Wednesday afternoon, Gorrin said.

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The Treasury Department declined to comment.

Gorrin bought the 4,500 square foot Manhattan apartment on the 47th floor of Baccarat Hotel & Residences for $18.8 million in November 2017, at the height of Venezuela’s economic collapse, according to New York real estate records. .

Gorrin was sanctioned by the Trump administration in January 2019 as part of a campaign to oust Maduro.

In early 2019, he stopped paying common charges of about $10,000 a month to the building’s condo board, court records show.

The sanctions prevent designated individuals from accessing the US financial system, freeze their US assets, and generally bar Americans from transacting with them. A lawyer for Gorrin said in court papers that the penalties prevented him from making the payments and that OFAC had not granted prior applications for a license authorizing him to pay.

The council obtained a court order in August 2020 to collect $184,876 in missed payments from RIM Group Properties of New York II Corp, the company through which Gorrin owns the apartment, which sits across from the Museum of Modern Art. (MoMA) and boasts views of the Empire State Building and Central Park.

Gorrin did not respond on Wednesday when asked by Reuters if he had paid the debts since obtaining the license.

A lawyer for Baccarat’s condominium board did not respond to a request for comment.

Maduro remains in power in Venezuela and has accused Washington of trying to oust him in a coup.

(This story has been refiled to remove the repetitive paragraph to clarify that the Treasury Department declined to comment)

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Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Josie Kao

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Lora M. Andrew