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Doctor Carlos Mahecha gives his version of real estate scam in Miami – Investigative Unit

From the operating rooms of the most important clinics in the country, the cardiovascular anesthesiologist Carlos Mahecha jumped into the extraditable pavilion of the La Picota maximum security prison.

(We recommend you read: The real estate lawsuit in Miami that involves the Colombian elite)

Mahecha, a former shareholder of the Clínica del Country, was captured in his luxurious apartment in Bogotá, in February 2021, three years after EL TIEMPO revealed for the first time that he appeared in an investigation into a scam against more than 152 investors in a real estate project known as Quarzo Boutique Hotelin one of the exclusive sectors of Miami: Bal Harbour.

A former senator, former magistrates, a notary, builders and even a controversial rancher from Casanare they injected close to 50 million dollars into the megaproject, whose promoter was Carlos Mahecha. In addition to long delays in the execution, the hotel was sold without their consent to the giant Beach House, in 2017, which left them millions in losses.

Since 2018, a court for the southern district of Florida has requested the capture, for extradition purposes, of Mahecha, and EL TIEMPO established for the first time that the Colombian Supreme Court has just issued a favorable concept. At 69 years of age and developing Parkinson’s, he agreed to talk about his case and what awaits him in the United States.

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The Bogota elite doctor is accused of having participated in a fraud to appropriate millions of dollars that were invested in the project.

How does a reputable doctor, a member of the jet set, end up being asked for extradition by the United States?

I have been dedicated to my medicine for more or less 40 years. I have specialized in heart and kidney transplants. I implemented them in the Clínica del Country and later we did the La Colina clinic. We received the Cruz de Boyacá as an award for that work for a long time. I was invited to a business in Miami, developed by a person who was an expert in real estate. I am not an expert in that and I agreed because he was a passive investor. At that time we had the resources.

Who invited you to the project, Juan Arcila?

The partner, who was an industrial engineer from the Universidad de los Andes, an expert on this real estate issue. Yes, ma’am, exactly.

Juan Arcila was sentenced to 51 months in prison in a Florida Southern District Court.

Investors of the project assure that you began to default, that it was a scam, and that they had to go to the authorities in the United States…

Well, defaults are, shall we say, a more or less normal process in business. But this always had financial support. What I asked the most every day, when I spoke with Juan Arcila, was whether the project had enough value to support what we are receiving or what people invested. And of course, It was always well above the value of the investment. This is how it was done in the first phase, which was very successful, that’s why we started to do the second phase, of three.

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If the project had financial support, why did it end up being denounced in the United States for fraud and will it have to face a trial for electronic fraud and conspiracy to commit a crime?

I don’t know where that part comes from. People say that when they don’t. I was one of the biggest investors, the ones who invested the most capital, even risking our assets. They are unaware of the subject, we were always advised by a law firm and everything was very well done. What they (investors) do, with a group of lawyers in the United States, is establish a bankruptcy law, which at that time was not appropriate, because the project was already on the other side, in the economic sense. And that is where it was transferred to Walter de Fortuna, a well-known firm in South Florida.

If everything went well, have they already paid all the investors or do they owe money?

I don’t know what state I’m in right now. But what I do know is that we sold the corresponding participation, generating a sum between 28 and 38 million dollars that came from the moment of the sale of the project. The same investors later do a renegotiation for lower value with the lawyers; having the lawyers a participation of 35 percent of that negotiation. They sell for less value afterwards.

(Furthermore: the government will be left today without 155 armored trucks to protect the threatened)

We wanted to finish the project, but the investors didn’t wait. What we did was sell to Walter de Fortuna, who met all the expertise and leverage requirements. It was guaranteed that the project would be completed, reserving 45 percent of the profits, once it was liquidated, for the Bal Harbor Quartz company. The investors were with a minimum insured of between 28 million dollars up to 38 million dollars. We do not understand how they accuse us of a scam or how they accuse me of a scam when I was the biggest victim. I want to know when they say that I did that.

This is what the Bal Harbor Quartz project looks like in the city of Miami.

Photo:

Private file.

You live with bosses and with people accused of murders. How are your days in La Picota?

The experience has been terrifying, the change is impressive. I never expected to be in a situation like this. My life was absolutely clear, transparent. It’s very hard. I have had to interact with all kinds of people and take care of them because health is precarious here. I think I have attended more than six thousand queries and it was my turn in the pandemic. They recently gave us a test, let’s call it people degradation. Seniors like me were made to climb 8 floors with about 40 kilos on our backs.

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For a person who belonged to the Bogota elite, what has been the hardest thing about being in La Picota?

It is not being able to be heard, because we have never had the forum where we can prove our innocence. I want to go to trial, because everything is clear to me, that I acted honestly. I have never had to take a penny from anyone. We were the biggest losers because we were the ones who invested the most money in the project in which we believed. Regarding the elite, I answer: one remains disappointed with the elite, because today not a single friend has visited me. Those are the experiences of life. But I also have the head to put up with that kind of thing.

Is it true that you have had to deal with an illness?

Mahecha says that in La Picota prison he provides his services as a doctor and that is why he has learned to live with all kinds of inmates.

Yes. That is another complex chapter. I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s for eight years. Here, with permanent stress, because that is not the best for this type of degenerative and irreversible disease. I understand her, lI manage with exercise, yoga and medication: I take eleven daily.

How do you accept the decision of the Court to give a favorable concept to your extradition?

I take it as a person they haven’t listened to. One does not become a bandit overnight. We have all the documents to prove that we did things the right way.

He will have to do it now in the United States…

You are right. Wherever, the site and the place we do it, of course we do.

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Aren’t you afraid of extradition?

No. I’m not afraid of what comes next because I have things clear. I sleep peacefully.

The capture operation had the participation of the National Police and Dijin.

What do you say to people who lost their capital?

They were the ones who made the decision to sell because we were winning. Today the project is a success, not as they say that it is a failure and that it was not viable. They can go look at it. The development of the project did not change at all, it was done exactly as scheduled. Today the project may be worth 100 or 90 million dollars. We could have won.

Have you contacted your ex-partner again?

No. I haven’t communicated with him in a long time.

(Check here all the articles of the Investigative Unit of EL TIEMPO)

And what do you say to those elite friends who used to sit with you in the exclusive clubs?

That the proofs are there, that They’re going to show up at some point and they’re going to see that I’m still as clear as I’ve ever been in my life. I have bet on him to come out with his face held high from this and we are going to show it wherever.

RESEARCH UNIT
u.investigativa@eltiempo.com
@UinvestigativaET
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