Feb 20, 2012 - BREAKING NEWS
ILONKA CASTILLO UNDER
It took one year to get to this result despite hundreds of complaints, now she can't leave the Dominican Republic
Major bank affiliate acquires foreclosed properties in Bavaro after lengthy litigation
A new acquisition has taken place over the real estate properties in Residencial Costa Bavaro (RCB) where for years construction projects have been suspended due to the heavy legal disputes between Intercaribe and Banco del Progreso affecting hundreds of people.
These properties were initially sold to investors by Mrs. Ilonka Castillo, President of the real estate company Intercaribe. Mrs. Castillo had misallocated investors’ capital and failed to fulfill her legal obligation of loan payments to Banco del Progreso, the bank that had financed her real estate development project in RCB. On account of Mrs. Castillo’s default payments, Banco del Progreso foreclosed these properties in the late 2009.
News on the recent transfer of properties and introduction on the new owner was personally announced by Mr. Mark Silverman, President and CEO of Banco del Progreso, during the 1st meeting of the Owners of The Residencial Costa Bavaro, an event that assembled over 50 attendees coming from different countries consisting of attorneys at law, journalists, real estate agents and property owners representing more than 160 units within RCB. Mr. Luis Fayad, investor and principal organizer of the meeting, had invited Mr. Silverman and Mr. Omar Bairán, Vice President of Legal Affairs of Banco del Progreso, both of whom had travelled and arrived together by helicopter to Bavaro a few hours before the meeting landing on one of the properties acquired by the new owner, Mr. Carlos Barjan Stefan.
The properties acquired consist of 3 major projects within the complex Residencial Costa Bavaro which is the residential area and home of IFA Hotels, who’s General Manager, Carlos Jimenez Ruiz together with Mrs. Ilonka Castillo and other shareholder form a company, Inversiones Floripes S.A., to act as the administration for the entire complex. These acquired projects include Villas del Sol II, Villas del Sol III and Costa Bavaro Gardens, projects that enjoy a privileged location within the complex and in Bavaro owing to its strategic adjacent position to the new Touristic Boulevard that also leads to the Cocotal Golf Course and the private Villas Palma Real of the Meliá Resort.
Mr. Carlos Barjan, who was also present at the meeting, was introduced to the assembly by Mr. Silverman, "We have finally found a buyer, here I have to be transparent, a buyer who has received funding through a company affiliated with the Vicini Group…" Mr. Silverman assures existing property owners on the bank’s position in the recent restructuring. As owner of 7 villas in RCB, the bank “…continues as an owner… the bank is going to sit at the table and everyone at this table to defend our common interests, with transparency and creating community.” Mr. Silverman continued, "My perspective is to leave here aligned with the mentality that Luis mentioned earlier: in unity and seeking solutions....We are a community we have to act with transparency and above all we are going to solve this situation."
In the meeting, Mr. Carlos Barjan, spoke on the immediate goals of the new acquisition and what has been done to ensure future progress as summed in his following statements:
· “…to concentrate, define, analyze and propose the appropriate framework on issues that have to do with the community as a whole.”
· “To determine in which way the administration of the condominium and its general maintenance is going to be regulated. And especially the next steps to take regarding IFA and Floripes.”
· “We also appointed a recognized law firm to meet any present or future contingent with respect to the rights of ownership of our acquisition.”
When asked by DT on the purpose of the meeting, Mr. Fayad clearly explained that it was“….to begin to heal, once and for all, 5 years of old injuries. I thought that the appropriate topic for the meeting was to establish a COMMUNITY, enforce and implement TRANSPARENCY and find SOLUTIONS.
Although we come from different walks of life and have different nationalities and languages, we share many things in common: we all have invested in the same small piece of paradise, we all became victims of the negligence of Mrs. Castillo as representative of Intercaribe and now we are all still dealing with the same lack of respect from the current administration run by the same people. We have essentially become a COMMUNITY by our parallel experiences and have chosen to make this declaration official in the meeting.
We as a COMMUNITY are asking for TRANSPARENCY from the administration who has for years been collecting monthly maintenance fee from owners but do not render the services that has been paid for and who continue to refuse to provide us with a financial statement on how our monies are being used. We hope to find SOLUTIONS facing the entire Residencial Costa Bavaro and gain our legal rights as owners. We also hope that the new acquisition will bring positive changes in the area and mark a new beginning for a more dignified place.”
"My wife and I have been diplomatically and legally fighting for over 5 years to recover the dignity of the entire complex. Not for one specific project/stage of the complex , but as I said at the meeting, for the unity and dignity of the entire Residencial Costa Bavaro which includes the property owners of IFA Hotels all the way to the new owners of the projects bordering the new boulevard. I believe in good will, and I hope that individual interests do not continue to interfere with the progress of the complex and the development of the beautiful Bavaro."
Mr. Fayad’s statement is the latest round in the years long anguish unleashed by the illegal actions of the residential’s original developers. DT’s various articles on the litigation have hopefully brought awareness among investors, and the need for the authorities to proceed in this type of case. Jorge Pineda, Chief Editor.
La “Administración Residencial Costa Bavaro” INVERSIONES FLORIPES, L.S.A. no es Martha Nava & Compañía
La Junta Directiva (Consejo de Administración) de la sociedad INVERSIONES FLORIPES, L.S.A., la “Administración Residencial Costa Bavaro” esta constituida por el Sr. Carlos Jimenez Ruiz y la Sra. Mercedes Ilonka Castillo como su socia. Según muestra el Certificado de Registro Mercantil de esta sociedad.(ver copia al final del boletín)
INVERSIONES FLORIPES, L.S.A. es la compañía que factura y recibe de todos los propietarios del Residencial Costa Bavaro extravagantes sumas mensuales de dinero por un mantenimiento inapropiado. Es la compañía que en varias ocasiones, se ha negado y opuesto rotundamente, a revelar a sus contribuyentes en que emplean y quienes reciben el dinero que ellos les pagan.
La Señora Mercedes Ilonka Castillo, asociada bajo esta entidad anónima con el Señor Carlos Jimenez, es la misma persona acusada de haber desviado cientos de miles de dólares de los mismos clientes que hoy, bajo esta sociedad FLORIPES, continúan recibiendo sus cuotas mensuales, sin los propietarios recibir los servicios acordados tales como “bacheo y asfaltado de las calles”
Ilonka Castillo de Cestti, socia del Sr. Jimenez, es la misma persona que esta siendo procesada penalmente y contra ella el “Poder Judicial de la Cámara Penal de la República Dominicana le ha impuesto medidas de coerción consistente en el impedimento de salida del país sin autorización judicial”
La misma persona que hizo que algunos propietarios hubieran sido despojados de forma maliciosa de sus propiedades, debido a que ella utilizara sus dineros para otras cosas en vez de cumplir con sus obligaciones con el banco.
La señora Ilonka Castillo y el entramado de sociedades que ha creado (como INTERCARIBE, S.A., INVERSIONES A.R.P., INVERSIONES FLORIPES, S.A.) y utilizado para esquilmar a las personas y que todavía continúa utilizando para su lucro personal en base al trabajo honrado y el esfuerzo de las personas decentes. Es la misma persona que constituye, junto con el gerente general del IFA, la directiva de la “Administración Residencial Costa Bavaro”
Original story, February 2011
DominicanToday.com .- In this follow up article on an alleged ongoing scam by the real estate company Intercaribe, and its president, Ilonka Castillo, two more investors have written us of their plight of bank forecloses on several properties worth US$20 million.
The scandal in the residential project Villas Bavaro, located in one of Dominican Republic’s most thriving resort regions.
DT had made numerous calls and sent several emails to the numbers and address posted on the Intercaribe Website, but they were all out of service, incorrectly listed, and since none responded our queries, it appears that they have simply vanished.
Letter to Dominican Today from: Isabel C. Meneses and husband
Subject: Residencial Costa Bavaro
It’s good that perhaps that somebody finally listens to us.
If you may be so kind, please read my letter, tell me how you see it and if it’s alright I give you permission to publish what I state here.
When my husband and I bought in Villas Bavaro, specifically Villas Del Sol II, did we it through a travel company here in Miami, specifically MK Travel where Mrs. Ilonka (Castillo, DT) had come and done grand presentations in rented halls for us to buy there.
Well we did so, we bought and we signed a contract where we were promised villas and castles, Club House, only for owners, green area, security and access to the beach via the hotel Ifa and free transportation to the beach, little of all this has been fulfilled.
The worse of all, we had to make three trips from Miami to reach the closing since our unit hadn’t been finished as we had been told.
Finally we closed and they promised us our much touted Title, it was supposed to be handed to us in no later than 90 days, when we insisted on it Mrs. Ilonka’s response to us was that they were working in that, only empty promises, when I told her that we were already tired of hearing promises, that I no longer believed in her answer was always, “My family is honest, we are one of the first "Realtors" in Santo Domingo, we deliver what we promise.”
Well, several years have already gone by and there’s still no Title, and we all already know the reason, Mrs. Ilonka didn’t use our money to settle the account of our lot with the bank, she used it at her convenience and now the bank has placed liens on several properties, including mine, according to the bank, it is ready to negotiate with the buyers.
But I ask myself, negotiate that?
I buy my property, pay what’s stipulated in the contract, why should I pay one cent more to the bank so they give me my Title? Why didn’t it charge those who embezzled with impunity, for failing to comply with all the promises they made, and those of the contract, forget them.
My question now is, What can we do, the investors who believed and trusted and have been so deceived with impunity?
I hope that somebody can help us solve this great problem, to let it be known and that something is done so this doesn’t continue happening.
Thank you very much,
Isabel Cristina Meneses, Eduardo Rene Maura
Investors in Dominican resort scream swindle, vow court action
Santo Domingo.- Investors in a residential project in one of Dominican Republic’s most thriving resort regions say they’ve been scammed by the real estate company Intercaribe, and its president, Illonka Castillo, which led a bank to foreclose on several of their properties worth US$20 million.
“My wife and I constructed our "dream" home in Costa Bavaro six years ago, for the first five years the residents here dealt with constant lies from Illonka Castillo who took the maintenance money a invested it in their own investments. For months we had no security (constant robberies) no trash removal, no street lights, basically it was a mess,” said a letter by one of the investors who’ve taken legal action.
Although not the first time foreign and local investors have been swindled by real estate companies that deal with upscale properties, the fact that Ilonka Castillo is a well known public figure who appears often on television to promote the sector makes this scandal unprecedented, spurring the term “ironic” from one investor. “I am writing to denounce the abuse to hundreds of investors on the part of the real estate company Intercaribe, S.A. Ironically the same day (October 9) while the president (Leonel Fernandez) inaugurated a project symbolizing the country’s progress, Intercaribe S.A., represented by Mrs. Ilonka Castillo as its president, misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
DT tried to call the IFA and Itercaribe phone numbers provided on its Website, they weren’t in service or incorrect, and an email didn’t get a response. We also tried to contact the Residencial Costa Bavaro office manager, Jocelyn de la Mota, but again, the numbers provided were either not in service or incorrect.
One of the investors even called the scam a “rape” occurring for the last six years, and notes that “nothing is happening,” “This Costa Bavaro has become a huge scam. The residents are furious that they are being "raped" for the last 6 years and nothing is changing.”
And although two of the investors said we could use their names, DT will await the response from those responsible for the project.
THE LETTERS TO DT:
“My wife and I constructed our "dream" home in Costa Bavaro six years ago. Since this time we have religiously paid our maintenance bills first to Intercaribe and now to the present company in charge IFA Resorts.”
“For the first 5 years the residence here dealt with constant lies from Illonka Castillo who took the maintenance money a invested it in their own investments. For months we had no security (constant robberies) no trash removal, no street lights, basically it was a mess.”
“At the present time the IFA resorts will not disclose any expenses to the property owners, the second phase looks like an "earthquake" has hit the roads. The first phase of Costa Bavaro where the IFA Resorts is located is spotless, good roads, no trash, and better security. It is very obvious that the money that the residents in the second phase is being only put to use in maintaining the cleanliness of the first phase and the IFA RESORTS.”
“When you ask about the roads they tell you maybe they will repair them next month. I, myself have offered my labor for free to fill in the holes if the stone and truck was provided. I figured it was cheaper than repairing my car. The other point is that they charge you to buy a water meter for $400 U.S. dollars when you construct a villa, and turn around and remove it if you are a day late paying the maintenance fee.”
“This Costa Bavaro has become a huge scam. The residents are furious that they are being "raped" for the last 6 years and nothing is changing. Mr. Pineda, I think this is a worthwhile story for your newspaper, since this is mostly foreign investors coming to the Dominican Republic to retire and live a stress free life and ending up in turmoil. I would like to meet with you in Costa Bavaro and have you listen to many of the residents and even speak to the administration here for a story in the Dominican Today. Look forward in talking to you.”
“I am writing to denounce the abuse to hundreds of investors on the part of the real estate company Intercaribe, S.A. Ironically the same day (October 9 ) while the president (Leonel Fernandez) inaugurated a project symbolizing the country’s progress, Intercaribe S.A., represented by Mrs. Ilonka Castillo as its president, misappropriated with hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
“Numerous sums of dollars, which honest middle-class investors, most of them with intentions to retire in R.D., were deposited in the hands of Mrs. Ilonka Castillo and company.”
“Mr. Pineda, for your information and to superficially understand the importance of such a significant situation, Mrs. Ilonka Castillo is the same person who represents the Dominican Republic internationally in her role as president before (FIABCI), the International Real Estate Federation.”
“The abuses to the people who have invested in Costa Bavaro continue still, Mrs. Ilonka Castillo has yet to respond for the money she received and a significant number of investors are taking Mrs. Castillo to court by means of their lawyers.”
“The Progreso Bank itself has foreclosed on the properties that Mrs. Castillo failed to pay for, although she received the money from the owners who were swindled, the bank took possession of the properties valued at $20 million dollars…the events at the IFA’s Residencial Costa Bavaro are of extreme importance for the country and its progress. The valuable information which we have will be news that will have repercussions in other media."
Dominican Watchdog Note: Be extremely careful if investing in the DR, foreign investors have lost over USD 300 MILLION alone in the Punta Cana - Bavaro area!! Roco Ki, Punta Perla and Cap Canaare all in trouble, so are over 20 smaller developments of which many are completely closed incl. Swaying Palms! Read more