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One Sotheby’s Mayi de la Vega alleges her accountant embezzled $1.2M

Brokerage's founder and CEO sues, claiming funds were used to buy property and pay bills
By Ina Cordle | March 01, 2017 04:30PM

Mayi de la Vega

Mayi de la Vega, the founder and CEO of One Sotheby’s International Realty, sued her longtime accountant, alleging she embezzled $1.2 million from de la Vega’s personal and business accounts.

The accountant, Alejandra Imbachi, used the funds to pay off credit card bills and purchase and renovate three South Florida properties, the suit, filed Feb. 9 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, alleges.

Imbachi was arrested on Feb. 4 in Miami-Dade County, and charged with 125 counts of grand theft, according to the suit, filed by de la Vega and her company Global Sales and Marketing Services, LLC, against both Imbachi and her husband, Jesus Imbachi.

Imbachi was a trusted employee of One Sotheby’s since 2012, and after years of working together, de la Vega allowed her to handle her personal finances and gave Imbachi access to her City National Bank account, the suit says. De la Vega also gave her access to her company’s Gibraltar Bank account to handle the company’s financial matters.

But starting in August 2014, Imbachi and her husband took money from each account “on a monthly or other regular basis” to pay personal credit cards in both her and her husband’s name, the suit alleges. The funds “were accessed and used without the knowledge or consent of de la Vega or Global Sales and Marketing Services.”

From August 2014 through February 2017, a total of $524,000 was taken from de la Vega’s personal account to pay off the Imbachis’ personal credit cards, the suit alleges. Another $678,000 was taken from de la Vega’s business account for the same purpose, the suit claims.

The couple allegedly used those funds to buy homes, paying $454,900 for a home in Cooper City on Dec. 3, 2012, the same day they obtained a mortgage for $424,297. The suit alleges that the couple also used de la Vega’s funds for the mortgage payments.

The couple then bought a $470,000 home in Southwest Ranches on May 27, 2015, and obtained a mortgage for $417,000. Within six months, seven notices of commencement were filed with Broward County, related to improvements, the suit said. On Oct. 1, 2016, the mortgage was paid off. The suit alleges de la Vega’s funds were used to purchase, improve, and pay off the mortgage on the home.

And on Jan. 17, 2017, the couple bought a home in Miami for $877,000 and got a mortgage the same day for $415,000 and a line of credit for $333,000. The suit alleges that de la Vega’s money was also used for that purchase.

“Alejandra and Jesus Imbachi conspired to do the … unlawful acts,” the lawsuit states, “by discussing with each other their scheme to deprive [de la Vega and her company] of the aforesaid funds, planning and strategizing with each other as to the timing and manner of doing so, discussing how they would use the funds obtained, and discussing how to effectuate their scheme without [de la Vega and her company’s] knowledge.”

The Imbachis own a trackless train called the Catabella Express, which they rent out for private events, according to their website. Alejandra Imbachi is out on bail and could not be reached for comment. Jesus Imbachi declined to comment.

De la Vega referred comment to her attorney. “The lawsuit speaks for itself. Ms. De la Vega was personally victimized by the defendant,” John Priovolos of Lagos & Priovolos, who is representing de la Vega, told The Real Deal. “She believes in our system of justice, and is confident that those responsible for committing these types of acts will be held accountable.”

One Sotheby’s has 11 offices in South Florida and ranked fifth in TRD’s September 2016 list of the top development marketing firms, based on number of preconstruction units they represent. Its projects include Turnberry Ocean Club in Sunny Isles Beach, L’Atelier in Miami Beach and One Thousand Museum in Miami.