Custer: Collateral victims of property owners in money laundering case

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The injured owners of Castries expect much from the verdict at the trial of Romanians accused of several dubious real estate transactions in the southern Tarn.

The Public Prosecutor requested, on Wednesday evening, prison sentences of up to 6 years, before the Criminal Court of Marseille, in the trial of 22 accused, among them the majority of members of the Roman Legion, but also against two notaries from the south of the Tarn region, in a large-scale real estate fraud case combined with laundering Organizer funds between 2007 and 2015. It was against Sebastian Celia, described as a fraud mastermind, for which the highest penalty was sought. Between 2010 and 2014, this 41-year-old Roman, who was installed in Castres at the time, had several real estate transactions in Mazamet and Castres. Over the months he would form about forty civil real estate companies, often with nominees, and purchased dozens of old buildings or wastelands which he renovated, furnished, resold, or leased. An eye-catching series of investments.

Moreover, in 2012, he was arrested by the Custer Police for introducing 25 Romanian workers in illegal conditions at the former hotel “Le Gioia” Salt Place in Castres. And already at that time, its overall operations were under the supervision of the Specialized Interregional Jurisdiction (Gerse) in Marseille.

In 2017, the man was charged and imprisoned. He is the subject of actions aimed at proving that he was, in fact, involved in a major network of money laundering from abroad, in particular from tax havens. He also practiced cavalry by manipulating the many loans contracted to take advantage of them. Two notaries of justice in South Tarn found themselves embroiled in this complex case and were accused of covering up these operations.
And the verdict, circulated, is as expected as Messiah by many of the southern tarn’s owners as the side victims of this band. They hope this trial will finally allow them to break the predicament they have been in for years. In fact, these Romanians sold apartments in some of their buildings while remaining owners of a few lots. And when they began to be concerned by the courts, they no longer gave any news to the owners and it is clear that they no longer pay the fees.

This is the case, for example, in a building on the Rue de Gazelle in Castres that houses 9 apartments, 6 of which are owned by five different owners and three are owned by Romanians. “Since the end of 2012, we haven’t had any news,” says Alain Prato, one of the co-owners. Unpaid fees piled up and other co-owners had to put pot in place to ensure a minimum. “We also did some work ourselves to reduce costs,” continues the Castres owner who also mentions poor workmanship in the work these scammers did.

“Nothing is progressing, everything is closed”

Having been abandoned by the trustee, finding no one willing to take charge of the situation, the co-owners were able to manage themselves for some time. But in the face of the great work to be considered, notably the repair of the roof, they had to decide to turn to a judicial trustee in Albi who administers other housing units of the same condition in the south of Tarn. “He compiled files to help us but nothing worked, everything was blocked, nothing moved forward, while there are organizations that come to help the co-owners when some are deficient,” in desperation Alain Prato who did not know. More where to go. Today, he hopes, judicial convictions will allow the Romanians to unlock the situation. Their apartments are auctioned off until new owners finally arrive. “But I think we haven’t finished our sentences yet,” he says, imagining that the defendants might appeal if they were found guilty.

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