Following Ugly Lawsuit, Senegal Closes on Site for New Mission
Dana Rubinstein Nov. 30, 2009, 9:02 a.m.
An East 44th Street landlord has dropped a strongly worded lawsuit against the government of Senegal in which he claimed breach of contract and warned that his experience “should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking about doing business with Senegal,” and has instead moved ahead with the sale of 227 and 235 East 44th Street for $24 million, according to city deeds.
The transaction for the development site, between Second and Third avenues, closed on Nov. 18, just nine days after the seller, Hotel East 44th Street LLC, filed the lawsuit against the Government of the Republic of Senegal. According to the lawsuit, Senegal originally agreed to pay $27 million for the vacant land, but kept stalling on the delivery of the $25 million balance on the purchase, “a seemingly easy enough requirement for the government of a country that wants to be taken seriously.”
The suit went on to claim that the sellers got personal assurances that the money would be delivered from Ambassador to the U.N. Paul Badji, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, and Senegalese Energy Minister Samuel Sarr.
Apparently, the dispute was settled out of court, and the price renegotiated.
The day the transaction closed, Senegal’s attorneys at Cozen O’Connor issued a press release on PR Newswire announcing the transaction and saying the lawsuit had been withdrawn. The release even contains an apologetic quote attributed to the “sellers”:
We are hereby withdrawing our lawsuit and apologize for any unnecessary publicity this may have caused. We understand that this has been a difficult financial climate in the world and these difficulties have contributed to what, in the end, turned out to be a misunderstanding. Fortunately, it was a misunderstanding that both we and the Senegalese Government worked closely together to resolve quickly. The representatives of the government of Senegal at all times acted with integrity, in good faith and proceeded with due diligence to complete the transaction.
The West African nation plans to erect a building called Maison du Senegal, which will serve as the country’s mission to the United Nations and as offices for culture and trade.
The seller’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.