The Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, has dismissed a report by The Wall Street Journal, which said that he offered the Sahara group $2 billion for Plaza Hotel in New York as well as Dream Hotel and Grosvenor House Hotel in London, a spokesperson said.
"Neither His Majesty, the Brunei Investment Agency, nor the government of Brunei are involved in any way in the purchase of the Grosvenor House in London or the Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels in New York," a spokesman at Bell Pottinger, acting on behalf of the Sultan of Brunei, wrote in an email.
The Wall Street Journal mis-reported that an investment firm in Brunei has offered to pay $2 billion for the three hotels, which are currently owned by the Sahara chief Subrata Roy.
Roy has been dealing with the sale of the luxury hotels from his special high-tech room in Tihar Jail, where he is being held for over five months after failing to repay ₹20,000 crore to investors who were sold outlawed bonds. The court has ordered him to pay ₹10,000 crore to get out on bail.
Sahara bought the Plaza Hotel for about $570 million in 2012. Two years earlier, it paid 470 million pounds ($786.5 million) for the 494-room Grosvenor House overlooking Hyde Park near Buckingham Palace. The Sahara group is also looking ahead to sell the Dream Hotel in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, the Indian tycoon has been trying to sell his properties in order to get out of prison under a deadline set by the Supreme Court. Apart from vast real estate, media enterprises and luxury hotels, Sahara also owns Formula 1 team and even used to sponsor the Indian cricket team.
However, Brunei has been criticized by civil rights and gay rights advocacy groups in the United States for becoming the first East Asian country to adopt sharia criminal law, which punishes sodomy, reported Reuters.
The harsh laws in Brunei, including death by stoning for homosexuals and adulterers have led to the boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel and Dorchester properties in Europe costing the hotel operator millions of dollars in lost revenue, Dorchester has said.