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

 
 
 

18 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

2 hours 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 workforce ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

1 day 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 trage ...
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

Modi government selling off Indian assets: Mamata
Kolkata, Aug 30 (IANS) Accusing the Narendra Modi led BJP government of selling out the country's assets by embracing FDI across sectors, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday warned that such policies would put Indian economy in grave crisis.
 
 
13 die of Ebola in DRC
Kinshasa, Aug 29 (IANS) A total of 13 people, including five doctors, died of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the country's Minister of Public Health Felix Kabange told Xinhua Friday.
 
 
How birds learnt to fly
New York, Aug 29 (IANS) Birds have an innate ability to maneuver in mid-air, a talent that could have helped their ancestors learn to fly rather than fall from a perch, says a study.
 
 
Millions of mites crawling on your face right now!
New York, Aug 29 (IANS) Are you aware that your face is brimming with living mites that feed on the oil our skin secretes and hide in tiny hair follicles? And no, they are not pooping on you as they store up all the excreta until they die!
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

UN peacekeepers injured in Mali landmine explosion
United Nations, Aug 30 (IANS) A number of UN peacekeepers were injured Friday when their vehicle hit a landmine in northern Mali, a UN spokesman said. "The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kanye West is supporting Rob Kardashian
Kanye West has become one of Rob Kardashian's ''biggest cheerleaders.'' The 37-year-old rapper, who is married to the sock designer's sister Kim Kardashian West, has started reaching out to support his brother-in-law,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Joan Rivers's condition remains serious
Joan Rivers remains in a ''serious'' condition in a New York City hospital. The 'Fashion Police' host, who was placed in a medically-induced coma after she went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing during minor...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Suri Cruise reunited with lost dog
Suri Cruise has been reunited with her lost dog. The eight year old - the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes - was devastated when her new Chihuahua, Honey, disappeared in Beverly Hills earlier this month and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
850,000 displaced in one month in Iraq
Geneva, Aug 30 (IANS/EFE) The Islamic State minlitants advancements have forcibly displaced 850,000 people in one month, the International Organisation for Migration(IOM) said Friday. The total number of people who...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
US identifies citizens fighting for Islamic State
Washington, Aug 30 (IANS/EFE) US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have identified around a dozen of its citizens, who have traveled to the Middle East to join jihad led by the Islamic State, officials said....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Keira Knightley goes topless
London, Aug 30 (IANS) British actress Keira Knightley showed her upper body for a racy magazine photoshoot. The "Pirates of the Caribbean" actress stripped off for fashion magazine Interview. In the photo, she appears...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
UN human rights report on Ukraine distorts facts: Russia
Moscow, Aug 30 (IANS/ITAR -TASS) The latest report of office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights distorts the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border, Russia's foreign ministry said Friday. "The authors of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Happy to call Brad Pitt my son-in-law: Voight
Los Angeles, Aug 30 (IANS) Actor Jon Voight is happy that now he can call Brad Pitt his son-in-law. Voight is happy about the wedding of his daughter Angelina Jolie to her partner of nine years and although he wasn't...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Modi government selling off Indian assets: Mamata
Kolkata, Aug 30 (IANS) Accusing the Narendra Modi led BJP government of selling out the country's assets by embracing FDI across sectors, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday warned that such policies...
Read more on Politics Balla