360° Coverage : Sant Chatwal: An Indian American Hotelier's Falls From Grace

2 Updates

Sant Chatwal: An Indian American Hotelier's Falls From Grace

Apr 22 2014, 4:06am CDT | by

Late last week Sant Chatwal Singh, a prominent Indian American hotelier who was a key donor and fundraiser for Hilary Rodham Clinton’s presidential run in 2008, pleaded guilty in a straw donor...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

26 weeks ago

Sant Chatwal: An Indian American Hotelier's Falls From Grace

Apr 22 2014, 4:06am CDT | by

Late last week Sant Chatwal Singh, a prominent Indian American hotelier who was a key donor and fundraiser for Hilary Rodham Clinton’s presidential run in 2008, pleaded guilty in a straw donor scheme.

Chatwal admitted that he had funneled more than $180,000 in illegal contributions between 2007 and 2011 to three federal candidates, including Clinton, according to media reports. He pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Thursday to skirting federal campaign contribution laws and witness tampering.

Chatwal, who has been friendly with the Clintons for years, had raised about $100,000 for Hillary’s 2008 presidential run. However, it turns out, most of that was illegal as it was an elaborate straw donor scheme in which he illegally reimbursed donors for their contributions, the New York Times reported.

This is quite a fall from grace for a flamboyant, and prominent, immigrant family.

In a cover story for Forbes Asia back in 2006, I had profiled the Chatwal family’s hotel empire in the U.S. Sant and his two sons, including Vikram who was briefly a model who appeared in Vogue, control Hampshire Hotels & Resorts. Since its first hotel, the President, was refurbished in then seedy Times Square in 1987, it had become considerably upscale and added to its portfolio boutiques hotels branded as “Hautel Couture by Vikram Chatwal,” where rooms and suites were rented for princely sums, up to $5,000 a night, to the glitterati. Of course, this was also in the hey days of the last decade and before the financial crash that came a couple of years later.

Sant’s adventures started when he left his home in Punjab and moved to Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia to teach. He opened an eatery there–maybe forecasting his hotel and restaurant chain to come–and grew close to the ruling class there but had to flee after the 1974 revolution. A few stops later he opened the Bombay Palace in midtown Manhattan, the first Indian restaurant to win over the fine-dining set. With that success in hand, he turned to the President and later to other hotels in New York and beyond.

The Chatwals, who have backing from institutional investors, today have 12 hotels in New York and one each in Miami, Bangkok and in the southern Indian city of Cochin (down from 17 at the time of my earlier reporting).

The Chatwals, at least before this turn of events, had social currency. Apart from several political friends–the list was headed by Bill and Hillary Clinton – steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, was a business buddy while self-help guru Deepak Chopra and various musicians and models, including Lindsay Lohan, mingled with the Chatwals on a regular basis. When Vikram, whose more serious past is in finance, trekked to the motherland to marry a Mumbai model with a business pedigree in 2006, it made the cover of New York magazine and a style spread in the New York Times.

Clearly, moving in such circles, especially the politically powerful ones, was important to Sant. In a recorded conversation, the Times reports, he described the importance of the donations to a government informant:

“Without that nobody will even talk to you. When they are in need of money,” he said, “the money you give, then they are always for you. That’s the only way to buy them.”

Vikram too got into trouble when he was arrested last April after trying to board a flight while carrying cocaine, marijuana and prescription pills, and has had several stints in rehabilitation, the Times reports.

Sant, now 70, faces upto 25 years in prison and a lot fewer friends.

In a statement to the Times, a spokeswoman said, “Mr. Chatwal deeply regrets his actions and accepts full responsibility for the consequences.”

 
Update
2

7 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the wo ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

7 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of MH370 and MH17" hits home. ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Spanish nurse cured of Ebola
Madrid, Oct 21 (Xinhua) Spanish nursing auxiliary Teresa Romero was pronounced cured of the Ebola virus disease according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines after the results of a second test confirmed Tuesday that she no longer had the virus in her blood.
 
 
Clinical trials of Ebola vaccine start Nov 1 in Switzerland
Geneva, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Tuesday that it will begin clinical trials Nov 1 in Switzerland of one of the two anti-Ebola vaccines currently under development.
 
 
Colombia to launch world's first floating gas liquefaction plant
Bogota, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The world's first floating gas liquefaction plant is due to begin operating next year off the coast of northern Colombia under a pact between Canada-based Pacific Rubiales Energy and Belgian shipbuilder Exmar.
 
 
Paralysed man walks again after pioneering cell therapy
London, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) A paralysed man has been able to walk again after therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord, the BBC reported Tuesday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Keira Knightley was 'a goody two-shoes'
Keira Knightley was ''a goody two-shoes'' when she was younger. The 29-year-old actress claims she was a ''boring'' well-behaved child and never skipped school because she didn't want to upset her parents or teachers....
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kat Dennings is in love with Kim Kardashian
Kat Dennings thinks Kim Kardashian's butt is ''amazing.'' The '2 Broke Girls' actress was ''very nervous'' when the 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians' star filmed a cameo for the show's 80th episode and was too shy to...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Taylor Swift doesn't 'need some guy' for inspiration
Taylor Swift is ''figuring out how to cope'' with life on her own. The 'Shake It Off' hitmaker hopes her upcoming album, '1989,' will prove she doesn't ''need some guy'' to help her ''make a great record'' or to feel...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Sarah Hyland is 'great'
Sarah Hyland says she is ''great'' after obtaining a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend. The 'Modern Family' star is happy to be focusing on her career again after a judge recently granted her a three-year...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
India re-elected to UNHRC for two years
United Nations, Oct 21 (IANS) India was Tuesday re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the term 2015-2017 in a keenly contested election in the UN General Assembly in New York. Other...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Spanish nurse cured of Ebola
Madrid, Oct 21 (Xinhua) Spanish nursing auxiliary Teresa Romero was pronounced cured of the Ebola virus disease according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines after the results of a second test confirmed...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Gurdwara closed in Belgium
Brussels, Oct 21 (IANS) The mayor of the town of Vilvoorde in Belgium, Hans Bonte, has ordered the closure of the local gurdwara, Guru Nanak Sahib, for one month. Belgian media Tuesday charged that the Sikh temple "...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Air strikes kill 28 militants in Pakistan
Islamabad, Oct 21 (IANS) At least 28 militants were killed when the Pakistani army launched an air strike in the country's northwest tribal town of Datta Khel Tuesday, military said. In a statement, Inter Services...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Report reveals large-scale torture in China's 'Black Jails'
Beijing, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The use of hotels and factories as clandestine prisons where thousands of people -- mostly women -- are tortured to prevent their complaints against the government from coming to light has...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Clinical trials of Ebola vaccine start Nov 1 in Switzerland
Geneva, Oct 21 (IANS/EFE) The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced Tuesday that it will begin clinical trials Nov 1 in Switzerland of one of the two anti-Ebola vaccines currently under development. WHO Assistant...
Read more on Business Balla