Northern Ireland home buyers sue British real estate agents for Estepona fraud

February 17th, 2011
Typically Spanish

The case of dozens of British purchasers affected by an alleged real estate fraud in Estepona has now reached the courts, in a suit presented on their behalf by the Marbella law firm, Lawbird.

The suit for fraud and misappropriation was presented at the courts in Madrid this Thursday against the Spanish promoter, Ricardo Miranda Miret, and three British real estate agents who El Mundo newspaper names as David Charles Stewart, Robert John Parkes and Colin Thomas. Lawbird has, in addition, asked the court to freeze funds amounting to 7.8 million €.

The victims, from Northern Ireland, paid off plan deposits for luxury apartments in Estepona which were never built. The money was paid to the British real estate company, Ocean View Properties, between 2005 and 2006.

El Mundo gives the amount defrauded as 4.5 million € and reports that the promoter had no licence from Estepona Town Hall and did not even own the land where the properties should have been built. The paper indicates that he only ever paid a deposit of 200,000 € towards the 18 million € which had been agreed for the sale. It’s understood that the land is classified as rustic and, today, remains undeveloped.

Antonio Flores from Lawbird said in a press conference on Thursday that 68 of the 90 victims he represents are directly linked to the Estepona case, but there are similar frauds in the Dominican Republic and Morocco which bring the total number affected up to close to 1,000. The victims each paid an average of between 70,000 and 80,000 € for their deposit, which puts the total amount allegedly defrauded in the three countries at between 70 and 80 million €.

The suit calls for Prince Albert of Monaco and the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández, to both to be called as witnesses, in connection with the fraud in the Dominican Republic. Antonio Flores claims Prince Albert received a payment from Ricardo Miranda to lay the first stone of the project there.

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