New attempt by IFPS to claim ownership Caravanserai land

POSTED: 11/24/14 7:54 PM

Baetsen: “We bought the property in good faith”

St. Maarten – Rudolf Baetsen, the representative for International Financial Planning Services (IFPS) expressed his despair to Judge Katja Mans yesterday at the end of the company’s umpteenth procedure to be acknowledged as the owner of a piece of land on the Caravanserai property for which it paid $1.5 million in 2011.

“I do not understand this,” Baetsen said. “We have bought the property in good faith and I think we ought to be able to rely on the notary. Instead we hear, you should have paid better attention.”

IFPS, a company of casino owner Francesco Corallo, bought two parcels of land at Caravanserai in Beacon Hill from Kildare Properties in 2011. The company also obtained a building permit for the project it wanted to realize on this location, but things started going south when Kildare was unable to keep up with its mortgage payments to Scotia Bank. The bank auctioned the complete property in August, including the parcels of land IFPS paid good money for.

However, in several court verdicts judges have ruled that IFPS never became the owner of the land because Kildare had failed to ask country St. Maarten permission to split the right of long lease.

When IFPS in spite of these rulings started to cordon off the land it claims, the new owner of Caravanserai, Alegria Real Estate, went to court to get the intruder off its property. When the court handled this procedure, the attorneys for IFPS were not present because they could not get a flight from Curacao to St. Maarten. They asked the court for an adjournment, but this was refused and the lawsuit continued, ending with a verdict on October 24 that IFPS had to remove fencing from the property. The ruling also forbade the company to violate Alegria’s rights to the land any further.

The contested piece of land is located behind the main Caravanserai building and currently has a swimming pool and a toilet building.

Yesterday IFPS was in court to resist the October 24-ruling. Attorneys Chester Peterson and Kimberly Lasten pleaded the case.

Lasten told the court that her client had lawfully obtained the property and contested that Alegria has become its owner. The court ruled in a regular court procedure on November 4 against IFPS on all counts. The court set aside one of the arguments of IFPS, based on a statement by notary Gijsbertha.

“It is odd that the court did not attach importance to the statement from the notary because he has a vested interest. But the court did attach importance to the statement of the civil servant of the Cadastre – who in our mind also has a vested interest.”

Lasten said that the November 4 verdict does not support Alegria’s position. “The incorrect split of the right of long lease does not affect the rights of the bank,” she said.

The attorney stated that the country had granted the split of the right of long lease afterwards, but this point was later contested by Alegria’s attorney Hendrich Seferina, who pointed out that the condition to grant this permission was not met – namely, that all parties had to agree to it. And Scotia Bank, as one of the interested parties, refused to agree.

Lasten however maintained that IFPS had obtained the land lawfully. “At the moment of the transfer, the bank’s mortgage rights to the land were not recorded in the public register of the Cadastre. Therefore the cooperation of the bank with the transfer was not required. IFPS obtained the long lease rights lawfully.”

Seferina referred to the many court cases that preceded yesterday’s summary proceedings. “There is a clear conclusion in those rulings: IFPS did not become the lawful owner of these non-existing parcels of land. The transfer is void. That IFPS still pretends to be the owner raises some eyebrows.”

Seferina referred to another court case wherein Kildare Properties was sentenced to repay the $1.5 million IFPS had paid for the land. “IFPS stated in that procedure: we did not get anything, we want our money back.” Furthermore, he added, all attempts to prevent the auction of Caravanserai by Scotia Bank have failed.

Sheriff Security had been busy with tape and blue paint to cordon off the contested parcels of land. “Corallo told us to do this, they told the new owners.”

Chester Peterson told the court that the ruling in summary proceedings cannot stand, “due to procedural mistakes. The judge took a bad decision,” he said.

Judge Mans noted that there are serious interests at stake for both parties. “A lot of money has been paid for this real estate,” she said.

The judge will pronounce her verdict on December 5.


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Comments (1)


  1. Kathy Filut says:

    It sounds like IFPS is getting “screwed” as much as all of us timeshare owners. Something not quite right with the legal system there.

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