Development leader of Puerto Azul involved in major Ponzi Scheme
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
Puerto Azul, the proposed multi-million dollar tourism development within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll, has turned out to be nothing more than a ponzi scheme. On Tuesday, January 17th, media houses from Switzerland reported that Domenico Giannini, the man behind Puerto Azul, and Fabio La Rosa, had been arrested by financial police. According to reports, both men have extorted money from over 200 private investors under the name of the luxury development, Puerto Azul.
The arrest warrant was issued by the financiers of the Provincial Command of Varese against seven persons. Five were sent to prison while two remained under house arrest. Both Giannini and La Rosa were among those sent to prison. During the arrest, officers also confiscated over 18 million Euros in assets (26 properties, 27 land shares of 10 companies, 6 cars and 18 bank accounts). Over 20 searches were performed between the accused parties’ offices in Italy and Switzerland.
“The surveys, conducted by the military of the Tax Police of Varese under the direction of the Public Prosecutor of Busto Arsizio, with the coordination of the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Luigi Furno, have enabled, after a year of complex investigations, to unravel an international criminal organization, with bases in Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Caribbean and London , and dedicated to serious fraud, embezzlement, illegal financial and banking activities, abusive saving collection, obstructing supervisory functions, recycling information, self-laundering, falsification of documents, and impersonation,” stated La Provincia di Varese, a Swiss media house.
The Puerto Azul concept caused much controversy in Belize. It was announced at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in France, where Belizean Ministers, including Area Representative and Minister of Tourism Honourable Manuel Heredia Jr., were invited guests. The proposal to build an exclusive resort, hotel, golf course, villas and spa on Northern Two Caye and Sandbore Caye, was met with much disdain from Belizean residents and environmentalist. Many believed it to be unfeasible and unsustainable to the environment.
Swiss media house, Varese News reported that “they sold to unsuspecting citizens a dream project for the construction of a hotel complex of extra luxury “8 stars”, known as “Puerto Azul”. Investors had been made to believe that it was a luxurious resort to be built in a Caribbean atoll, off the coast of Belize.” Apparently the development was nothing more than a farce, as the entire project was just a means to commit fraud and embezzlement.
Reports are that even Hollywood stars who invested in the Puerto Azul development were caught up in the fraud. Celebrity investors like John Travolta and Andrea Bocelli were completely unaware of Giannini and La Rosa’s real plans, and were even used to promote the Puerto Azul concept. “The method employed by the association included the signing of contracts and artificial simulators (example of “real time sharing”), created in order to ensnare customers and induce investment , through transfers made on “bank accounts”, interposed between accounts of the organization (located in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belize) and customer accounts, starting with the primary purpose of evading the supervision of credit institutions over its promoter’s mandated and customers portfolio location,” indicated La Provincia di Varese in their report.
On July 23, 2014, Minister Heredia had indicated that cabinet had approved Puerto Azul to go ahead with their Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). “They were given the green light by Cabinet to go ahead and do their EIA. That is where we stand at this point. They have brought their team of environmentalists to look at the area, to do assessments, and even before they are actually going into the EIA, they have found out there are things that they wanted to do that could not fit,” said Heredia in an article titled “Minister Heredia says EIA for proposed Puerto Azul Concept is underway” Issue 31 Volume 24 of The San Pedro Sun. The last discussion on Puerto Azul in Belize was in April 16, 2015, when John Mills, owner of the property in which Puerto Azul was to be built, clarified that he still had not received any payment towards the purchase of the land.
The San Pedro Sun will continue following this development.