Soon after we received a court ruling against property developer Manilva Costa S.A. as a consequence of its dealings with the demised real estate agent Ocean View Properties (OVP), we began to receive new enquiries from private purchase contract holders of Estepona Beach and Country Club. Purchasers had been left stranded in this legal limbo, perfectly orchestrated between developer, agent and appointed lawyer, the latter being the more reproachable of the three for his failure to even get a contract signed by someone (yes, monies were paid to Ocean View Properties and contracts sent to the clients to sign, and then never returned to them with an original signature; never mind about bank guarantees… frightening!).
But at least though, Manilva Costa S.A. managed to finish the properties, and have a finished product which says something about them, even if the properties were delivered late, specifications did not match the agreed ones on contract, and additional facilities were never built.
What has happened with Estepona Golf & Country Club is similar in its inception, but where the development was meant to go there is a void plot, and of course, as above, no contracts were ever exchanged, no bank guarantees to protect the investment secured, no building license granted and it appears that not even was the plot owned by the developer. Unfortunately for these investors, Spanish lawyers appointed to protect them seemingly worked rather on behalf of the deal, because nothing, except for a receipt, did the clients get.
The consequences are, in principle, that investors are now left with little options to sue on a civil court because they have few or no documents to pursue Sungolf Desarrollo Inmobiliario S.A., the Spanish developer, nor Ocean View Properties, since it is now wound up. So I decided to investigate this matter further, and to my surprise I found an interesting article (in Spanish), where a link is established between the above two companies with the biggest corruption case ever to be started in Spain, Operacion Malaya, and with a development known as Punta Perla, a massive $2.5 billion resort.
According to the Sepblac (Spanish Anti-Money Laundering Specialist Service) Sean Woodhall is the necessary link between the Spanish investors, which include Antonio Roca (the mastermind of the massive Marbella Town Hall corruption ring still in prison), Tomás Olivo (owner of La Cañada commercial center and indicted for money laundering), Carlos Sánchez and Andrés Lietor (both businessmen connected to Roca and also indicted for money laundering), and the Dominican projects. The report also says that Woodhall was fronting Berkeley Property Investments, and was the beneficiary of substantial funds forwarded by Sungolf Desarrollo Inmobiliario S.A, and it refers to a project of 395 units in Estepona it is developing and selling with the assistance of Ocean View Properties (it would appear that Ricardo Miranda Miret, Sungolf director, introduced Woodhall to Carlos Sánchez and defined him as his partner).
If one reads the article and analyses how the whole plan was concocted, it seems clear that there was not the slightest intention to build and sell 395 units in Estepona by either Sungolf Desarrollo Inmobiliario S.A or OVP, respectively, but just to extract €30 million to buy into the Dominican Republic Punta Perla development, which makes this a massive swindle equivalent in size to the Fortuna Land scam although with an international component.
What the Spanish investigators at the time never did was link this money laundering scheme with the Estepona Beach & Country Club scam; pending consultation of the report which we are expecting to get a copy of, it seems that there is sufficient evidence to consider criminal prosecution against Ricardo Miranda Miret, the director of the company at the time (and still is) and its shareholders Rosa María Prado Rubio and Javier Espinosa. The local reporter for El Mundo (largest Spanish newspaper), who incidentally is a client of our firm, has taken a big interest in the matter and we will be meeting him early next week to consider lines of investigation to find out where were the funds paid by buyers for apartments at Estepona Beach & Country Club fraudulently diverted.
- Operación Malaya: La Conexión Dominicana (article in Spanish)