March 26, 2009

Development fraud trial opens in Miami

Prosecutors Thursday said $170 million is owed to investors at a fraud trial involving two Canadian businessmen in a U.S. court in Miami.

Claimants in the civil case say defendants Fredrick and Derek Elliott, both residents of the Dominican Republic, sold clients on investments at various resort properties they said they would develop, including a 268-room Dominican Sheraton Hotel that was in disrepair.

None of the projects they pitched were completed, prosecutors said. Instead, the investments were laundered through various companies and used as personal bank accounts.

A third defendant in the case, former Dominican minister of tourism Victor Cabral, is under house arrest after being convicted of charges related to fleecing a company involved in tourism development, the Miami Herald reported.

''Unfortunately, this case is another example of how the search for the almighty dollar deviates from basic notions of right and wrong,'' said the claimants' attorney Michael Diaz.