Feds probe John Travolta pal’s jetsetter lifestyle
A Hollywood playboy known for hobnobbing with celebrities like John Travolta and Manny Pacquiao is in the crosshairs of the feds over millions allegedly used to fund his lavish lifestyle, including yacht parties with bikini-clad women, The Post has learned.
Assets allegedly owned by ex-con Victorino Noval, aka Victor Jesus Noval, are at the center of a civil lawsuit filed this week by the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles over billions of dollars allegedly stolen from the government of Kuwait. A criminal probe is also underway, sources added.
Thursday’s civil forfeiture filing claims a crew of Kuwaiti officials who stole tens of millions of dollars in government money starting in 2010 used at least some of their ill-gotten gains to invest in a Beverly Hills land parcel that made headlines in 2018 for its staggering $1 billion price-tag.
While some of the money was used to invest in the property, known as The Mountain, the US developers — a group the feds say includes Noval — also spent some of it on their glitzy Hollywood lifestyle, including a Lamborghini, a yacht, a private jet, a Beverly Hills penthouse and Manny Pacquiao Prize Fighter belt and boots that cost $40,000.
“It’s almost funny. A con conned a con,” an anti-corruption investigator in Kuwait told the Post in an exclusive interview. “But this isn’t about an individual stealing from another individual. It’s about public servants stealing from the government. That’s treason.”
In addition to Noval, the feds’ complaint targets his son Victor Franco Noval and Charles “Chip” Dickens — the businessman who first scored the rights to develop The Mountain from the trust of Mark Hughes, the now-deceased billionaire founder of Herbalife.
But sources with knowledge of the probe tell The Post that the bulk of the focus is on Noval, the son of an arms smuggler who helped the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro. He served time in prison 20 years ago for a scheme to defraud the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and still owes the government $25 million in restitution.
Sources say US investigators have been asking questions since last year about Noval’s wealth, which includes an Italian-style villa in Beverly Hills was used to throw a party — co-hosted by actor Travolta — in honor of Italian producer Oscar Generale in 2018, the Hollywood Reporter reported last year.
The feds’ complaint mentions that very Summit Drive mansion, which Sotheby’s says comes equipped with 11 custom bathrooms, a wine cellar and a home theater. The Summit property was acquired in November 2016 for $20.4 million using money that has been traced back to the Kuwaiti money, the feds said.
The complaint seeks to claw back the mansion and other assets purchased with the Kuwait money, including a private jet acquired in 2016 for $627,000 by an associate of Noval; a yacht acquired that same year for $820,000; a Lamborghini purchased in 2017 for $324,900, again by an associate of Noval; and a Wilshire Blvd penthouse acquired in 2012 for $1.2 million.
The complaint also mentions $40,000 spent in 2015 for the purchase of a replica of a Manny Pacquiao Prize Fighter belt and boots. One year earlier, in 2014, Noval held an auction on his Beverly Hills estate to sell the bloodied shorts Pacquiao wore during a victorious fight with boxer Timothy Bradley, according to the Victorino Noval Foundation website, which claims singer Zendaya was in attendance.
Noval charged guests $1,000 a head to enter, entertainment website TMZ reported at the time.
The Instagram account for Noval, born in Cuba in 1961, depicts a jetsetter lifestyle, including photos of fast cars, stars like Travolta, and, of course, women wearing skimpy bikinis on a yacht, by a pool and draped over the balcony of a posh mansion.
The Los Angeles US Attorney’s office declined to comment, but prosecutors who have been involved in the probe include Michael Sew Hoy of the asset forfeiture division, Mack Jenkins of the public corruption unit and Joseph Axelrad of organized crime, sources said.
Ronald Richards, a lawyer for the Novals, didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Dickens wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The Mountain, meanwhile, remains the largest undeveloped plot of land in Beverly Hills after years of passing through wealthy hands. Hughes bought it from TV personality Merv Griffin in 1997 for $8.5 million with an eye to building a 50,000-square-foot home, his wife at the time, Suzan Highes, told The Post. But the couple soon divorced and Hughes died from a drug and alcohol overdose in 200, passing the estate to his 8-year-old son through a trust.
Share this article:
Source: Read Full Article