Costa Rica News – In Northern Costa Rica there is a concession called Giardini de Papagayo in the Playa Panama in Guanacaste. There were thirty villas purchased by United States citizens, Canadians, and Costa Ricans. Costa Rican attorneys were used, and the person who was handling this new build location was a woman of Swiss origin named Ana Moscarelli.
The involvement of the local attorneys, the involvement of ICT which is the Costa Rican Tourism Board seemed to confirm an airtight purchase for the new homeowners. The owners were excited to one day be able to live in their new vacation homes, and in some cases, these were going to be permanent retirement home.
The pic to the left is the pic from when most investors bought into the property.
Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. It all started in 1999. Ana Moscarelli bought this Grupo Papagayo from Carlos Pagani. According to the home buyers, the ICT never investigated Moscarelli and later allegations about her using mob money were brought up. Then over the next 7 years permits were doled out by the Costa Rican government, and villas were sold. Some of the properties were constructed, including the lobby, restaurant, and swimming pool.
During this span, Moscarelli invited ICT officials, other government agencies, and potential investors to stay at the property as guests that stayed in some of the owner’s own villas. During this time, Moscarelli borrowed money from Banex (according to sources it was about $1 million dollars) and due to the unpaid loan, Banex threatened to foreclose on 11 villas.
In addition, home buyers claim that there was improper sewage treatment and vendors and employees were not being paid for their services.
The properties were closed by the Municipality and the Ministerio de Salud in August of 2008. The U.S. home buyers decided to try and get the U.S. Embassy involved in their dilemma, with no outcome so far. As one digs deeper into this story it gets more and more twisted.
There are many allegations by the home buyers in this concession such as, Moscarelli hired a part time painter to be the properties architect who is allegedly Moscarelli’s daughter’s boyfriend. Also, there were survey markers that had been illegally tampered with, Moscarelli wasn’t paying property taxes regularly, and squatters and vandals have been decimating the properties since the ICT closed off the land.
The picture to the right is the property today.
This situation does not fare well for the Costa Rican government bringing in businesses, tourism, or retirees which could be boosting up the economy and the creation of jobs for many local Costa Rican people. These buyers into the concession have contacted ICT on several occasions which have gone unresolved and the buyers do not feel they can trust the government agency because Ana Moscarelli wasn’t thoroughly checked out in the first place, because if she had been, the concession never would have been granted to her.When going through all the claims and evidence provided by different sources, one can only wonder if she had some friends in high places within the structure of the government.
Last year Ernesto Rivera and Giannina Segnini of La Nacion (A local Costa Rican Spanish language newspaper) reported on illegal financial dealings with laundered money carried out by officials in the Catholic Church in Costa Rica. This investigation was sparked by complaints of Ana Moscarelli’s dealings in Costa Rica and her alleged record in Switzerland for managing the accounts of corrupt politicians and mafia linked persons.
The home buyers in the concession are still left standing out in the cold. There have been no attempts at resolution as far as they can tell. Ideally, the home owners would like to be able to continue with creating a home in Costa Rica if the government could get this mess figured out, and at the very least, they want some type of reimbursement of their money because this comedy of errors and deceit started with the government in Costa Rica. There was no follow through, no follow up, and no initial research into who they were giving a concession to.
Various sources mention that Ana Moscarelli has fled the country and is currently living in Nicaragua. The ICT status of this case is that it is still pending.
A recent article in La Nacion has mentioned that the Ana Moscarelli now has an arrest warrant for her scams. It can be read here
The most recent communication between villa owners shows that ICT and other government entities are not even close to a resolution on this situation. We can only hope they remedy this soon as each day passes the word spreads about this real estate fiasco and it will scare away investment into the country.
The real question to be asking in this case is how high do these mob ties go to grant someone like this a concession or is it just a coincidence?
The ball is in the court of ICT and theother Costa Rican government entities and the owners can only hold on to that last shed of hope that they will come to a resolution soon.
By Stacey Dunahay