After Miami’s real estate boom and bust a decade ago, one of the many foreign buyers who swooped in to snap up a luxury high-rise condo overlooking Biscayne Bay was a minister of parliament in the Republic of the Congo.
Denis-Christel Sassou Nguesso, whose father has been president of the oil-rich Central African nation since the late 1970s, transferred millions of dollars through an unknown associate to bank accounts in South Florida to buy the condo for $2.8 million in the 900 Biscayne Bay tower, court records show. At the closing of the sale, he used his alias, Denis Christelle.
In a civil forfeiture case filed in Miami, federal prosecutors say the president’s son bought the 3,500-square-foot penthouse apartment with money stolen from the Congo’s national oil company and are suing to seize the condo in what they describe as an alleged “international money laundering conspiracy.” The condo at 900 Biscayne Blvd. is listed as the defendant in the civil case. Nguesso and his wife, Nathalie Bumba-Pembe, are not named as defendants, nor have they been charged with a crime.
The “Congo condo” — penthouse unit #6107 — was purchased by Nguesso in October 2012 but he transferred the title of the property to his wife four years later to hide his ownership, prosecutors say.
The three-bedroom, four-bath unit, located at the top of the 650-foot tower at 900 Biscayne Blvd. just across from a waterfront park with art and science museums, has been on the market for $3 million since last year, according to local real estate listings. A property manager for the Biscayne Bay building, Scott Snipes, declined to comment Wednesday.
Nguesso could not be reached for comment, and no one is listed as his attorney on the case docket in Miami federal court. A comment from the Republic of the Congo could not be obtained because its embassy in Washington, D.C., and consular services have been temporarily shut down since the coronavirus pandemic struck the United States in March.