Feds look to seize Porsche Tower condo unit tied to $1B money laundering case

Prosecutors allege the $5M unit was used as compensation for illegal services

TRD MIAMI /
Aug.August 07, 2018 01:00 PM

Porsche Design Tower, the flag of PDVSA and the Venezuelan flag

UPDATED, Aug. 7, 4:55 p.m.: Federal officials are seeking to seize a condo unit at Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach that they allege is tied to a $1 billion Venezuelan money laundering scheme.

Prosecutors allege the scheme laundered money out of Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA, and into fraudulent investments and Miami real estate. One deal allegedly involved was the $5.3 million purchase of unit 2205 at Porsche Design, a 132-unit, 60-story luxury condo tower built by Dezer Development.

Federal officials are now seeking to seize the unit and recently filed a notice of lis pendens in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Andrew Ittleman, a partner at Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph who focuses on white collar defense and money laundering, said filing a notice of lis pendens makes the property “impossible to sell until the resolution of the case.”

Paladium Real Estate Group LLC purchased the unit from the developer in January 2017, according to property records. State records show that the wife of the Venezuelan Ministry of Oil and Mining’s former legal counsel originally managed the LLC. Juris Magister, a Brickell law firm, is the registered agent.

In the initial indictment, federal prosecutors allege the former legal counsel, Carmelo Urdaneta Aqui, discussed transferring the unit to an alleged Venezuelan money launderer, Jose Vincente Amparan Croquer, as compensation for his services. Amparan’s wife was added as a manager of the buyer’s LLC in September 2016. A year later, Urdaneta’s wife was removed, “leaving Amparan in control of Paladium and the condominium,” according to the indictment.

In a statement provided to The Real Deal, Dezer Development cited the Fair Housing Act and other laws that “require us to sell to buyers that have the ability to sign a contract and send a deposit. We are precluded by these laws from conducting background searches or any action that would be deemed as discriminatory. We simply live in a society where we cannot choose our neighbors.”

Conspirators in the alleged scheme include former PDVSA officials and members of the Venezuelan elite, also known as “boliburgués.” Shortly after the indictment was filed in late July, the Miami Herald reported that Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro is under investigation by the U.S. government for his role in the alleged scheme.

The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Ittleman said that when the federal government looks to seize an asset in a money laundering case, it is usually successful.

Dezer completed the beachfront tower in November 2016, and a number of owners have tried to flip their units since then. The building is known for its “Dezervator,” a patented car elevator that takes residents up to their units in their cars.


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Gil Dezer and Mayor Anthony DeFillipo with a rendering of Intracoastal Mall (TAMZ, Twitter)

Do over: North Miami Beach to re-vote on Dezer’s plan to redevelop Intracoastal Mall

Do over: North Miami Beach to re-vote on Dezer’s plan to redevelop Intracoastal Mall
A rendering of the project with developer Gil Dezer

Dezer’s mega development project gets key approval

Dezer’s mega development project gets key approval
Southland Mall, 20505 South Dixie Highway in Cutler Bay with JLL's Tom Hall and Danny Finkle (Google Maps, JLL)

Southland Mall’s troubled $65M CMBS loan for sale

Southland Mall’s troubled $65M CMBS loan for sale
Top developers on their reasons for doubling down in South Florida market

Top developers on their reasons for doubling down in South Florida market

Top developers on their reasons for doubling down in South Florida market
Renderings of the project and Gil Dezer (Getty; Renderings via  Zyscovich Architects)

Dezer’s 30-acre megaproject in North Miami Beach gets first approval

Dezer’s 30-acre megaproject in North Miami Beach gets first approval
2701 Jockey Circle in Davie, FL (Google Maps, iStock)

Leaked bank documents show South Florida real estate’s alleged ties to money laundering

Leaked bank documents show South Florida real estate’s alleged ties to money laundering
Alan Ojeda and 8894 NW 44 Street in Sunrise (Google Maps)

Rilea Group scores $46M construction loan for Sunrise apartments

Rilea Group scores $46M construction loan for Sunrise apartments
From left: Henry Torres, Jorge Perez, Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, Gil Dezer and Joseph Kavana (iStock)

“Anything and everything is negotiable”: Incentives for condo buyers mount in Miami

“Anything and everything is negotiable”: Incentives for condo buyers mount in Miami
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...