Michele Pilato, the owner of the Mallorca Investment real-estate agency at the centre of what is said to be the biggest property fraud ever in the Balearics, was yesterday ordered to be held on remand following a court appearance in Palma. Four of the eight people who had been detained over the fraud, estimated to have been worth five million euros, went before the court. Two of them, one an architect, were released without precautionary measures being applied, e.g. bail, while the fourth, a builder José Antonio Mir, was also ordered to prison.
The court has frozen assets of one million euros in the name of Mallorca Investment and Lujo Casa, both of which operate from the same address in Cala Major that was raided by the Guardia Civil on Tuesday.
Prior to his court appearance, Michele Pilato told acquaintances that he too was a victim of the scam, that he never cashed any deposits from purchasers of the non-existent off-plan properties and that he never signed anything. He insisted that Carlos García Roldán publicised the developments on his (Roldán's) website.
He believed that his reputation and that of Mallorca Investment had been destroyed, and added that some employees have been affected by the fraud.
Roldán, for whom there is an international arrest warrant, is believed to be in Colombia.
Specific cases of individuals who were scammed are starting to be highlighted. Two couples paid sums of 27,000 and 30,000 euros, the ten per cent deposit for properties which were said to have been available at very competitive prices because a bank had acquired land as a debt settlement.
A spokesperson for a group of people affected has described Roldán (Charly) as a man with no scruples who had funded a high life of casinos, luxury hotels and Moët champagne by taking money from families, recently divorced people and retired folk. The spokesperson regrets that it was all too easy for the fraud to have been carried out.