During 11 simultaneous raids on Wednesday at locations in San José and Cartago, Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) arrested three people allegedly linked to a $2 million property fraud scheme.
OIJ agents searched the home of Italian entrepreneur Matteo Quintavalle, where they confiscated documents related to the investigation, initiated last September, officials said.
At least nine plaintiffs claim to have lost properties in the case. Quintavalle was not arrested.
Cops detained three men with the last names Laboranti Marchini, Vargas Solano and Segura Barquero, the OIJ reported.
The three men – two of them attorneys – allegedly appropriated properties by using fake powers of attorney in order to sell the properties to others.
When the real owners of the properties discovered the scam, the suspects then allegedly produced additional counterfeit documents stating that ownership titles would be returned to them. This also was false, the OIJ said.
Quintavalle, no stranger to tangles with the law, became a public figure in Costa Rica in 2006 when he stirred up the country’s professional soccer league (Primera División) by recruiting 13 players from some of the most popular teams to offer them high-figure contracts rarely seen in the local market. For what he intended to use them was unclear.
He also publicly said he was interested in buying one of the professional teams, including Cartaginés, Carmelita and Alajuelense, but negotiations never took place.
In 2007 he was accused of fraud by a group of U.S. investors who said Quintavalle scammed them for $12 million in real estate deals that never happened. He was taken into custody, but was later released on bail in December of that year, pending an investigation that continues to this day.
A report from the daily La Nación in June 2010 said that 98 plaintiffs had joined the case against Quintavalle. The case is still open seven years later, after the Prosecutors’ Office sought an extension in 2010.
Quintavalle’s properties in Costa Rica in 2010 included eight hotels, two restaurants, a casino and a gas station.