The owner of a popular bowling alley in Greenwich Village said Thursday his company is was severing ties with a group tied to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and is returning its $1.3 million investment.
Arafat invested the money in New York-based Strike Holdings, owner of Bowlmor Lanes, through a holding company he created called Onyx Funds, according to Bloomberg Markets Magazine.
“We are in the process of placing the funds in the amount they invested in escrow to be returned,” Strike Holdings founder Thomas Shannon told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
“Effectively as of today the PCSC will have no investments in Strike Holdings,” he added. The PSCS is a Ramallah-based holding company owned by the Palestinian Authority.
Some customers upset
Bowlmor is several blocks from the campus of New York University and is popular with Manhattan hipsters, who pay about $8 a game per person to bowl in the evenings and on weekends.
News of the investment upset some customers at the alley, which advertises itself on its Web site as an ideal location for bar and bat mitzvahs for Jewish teens.
“If I had known, I wouldn’t have come, but I promised the kids,” Steve Saslow, 55, told the Daily News in Thursday editions.
Shannon said he was just as surprised by the news.
“We had no idea whatsoever until yesterday,” he said.
Zeid Masri, managing partner of SilverHaze Partners, a Virginia-based investment firm, told Bloomberg Markets Magazine he invested the money in Strike Holdings for Onyx because he had been a former classmate of Shannon.
Strike Holdings, which also owns bowling alleys on Long Island and in Maryland and Florida, said it, too, was unaware the money had come from Arafat.
“Had we known the source of these funds, which represents approximately 2 percent of our company’s equity, we never would have accepted them,” company spokeswoman Marcia Horowitz told the News.
The Bowlmor money was among $799 million in international investments by Arafat detailed in newly released documents, Bloomberg Markets reported. Other holdings included $285 million in Orascom, an Egyptian cellphone company, and $3.2 million in the U.S. software firm Simplexity, it said.