The legal case explained by Antonio Velardo
By Antonio Velardo
A series of news about me are currently being spread in the newspapers by mainly two groups called IrpiMedia and OCCRP. Here I will try to briefly explain the case supported by the attached documents so you can easily understand that the reporter’s allegations are totally fake and defamatory.
I have only been accused of money laundry for the mafia in one case, “Operation Metropolis” and I have been fully acquitted of all charges under the prosecutor’s request.
Here you will find the document called: “Dispositivo Metropolis”.
For this probe, because of the gravity of the accusations, I had a warrant of arrest that the supreme court subsequently canceled due to lack of evidence for the alleged charges. In my case, the warrant was canceled because there was no evidence or proof against me. Usually, when this happens, the case is won by the defendant quite easily. From the very beginning, the prosecutor could not provide sufficient proof for the my detention.
Here is the document for the cancellation of the arrest warrant by the supreme court called “sentenza cassazione.”
The reporters say that because Credit Swiss bank “did not cooperate” with the Italian authorities they lost the case against me but that if the Italian prosecutors had the information about these accounts I would have been found guilty. This is another malicious lie as both the Italian and the Swiss authorities investigated my bank accounts which were frozen till the first-degree resolution of the court. The reports allege that I had six bank accounts which is false as I just had the three that they already mentioned in the article and previously asked about in several emails that we responded in a call with them.
Here you will find the document called: “Email from the reporters”.
Contrary to what the reporters allege, here you can find a document from the Swiss authorities indicating the Credit Swiss accounts which were investigated and frozen by the request of the Italian authorities. These are the same that the reporters asked us about as if they have been never seen by the authorities which is totally false. The only account that was not frozen was the last one that had 25,000 Euro because it was already closed by the time of the accusations.
Here you will find the document called: “Decreti di perquisizione, sequestro, edizione e sblocco – Velardo Credit Suisse”.
Attach here you will also find the document of the swiss authorities detailing the investigation against me and that the Swiss authorities compensated me for the blockage of the money and the legal fees.
Here you will find the document called: “Decisione MPC”.
I did not have any secret accounts in Credit Swiss or elsewhere. I was a Tunisian resident and therefore had no obligation to declare my accounts to the Italian tax authorities. However, as you have seen above, the Italian authorities did have access to my accounts which were blocked by them together with all my assets to be later freed in the first-degree trial because I was acquitted of all charges.
In the trial, I was acquitted in the first degree because there was no evidence for the crimes. This acquittal was under the request of the prosecutor.
This is the only charge in which I was accused of laundering money for the mafia, and it was indeed very weak that even the warrant of arrest had to be canceled for lack of evidence or proof of the accusations against me. The case was so clear that the prosecutor requested my acquittal because they had no evidence against me. Henry Fitzsimons was accused alongside me with the same charges and was as well fully acquitted in this trial. The Italian government compensated him for unjust arrest with an extra 30% above the norm because of the gravity of the unfair arrest. Attach you will find the documents where the reparations paid for unjust detention are explained. Clearly, if I had been arrested before the supreme court canceled the warrant of arrest, I would have been as well compensated as Henry Fitzsimons was.
Here you will find the document called: “Istanza di ingiusta detenzione Fitzsimons Metropolis”.
Also, the reporters purposely mix up the information and involve Antonio Maccarone with Jewel of the Seas. Our company VFI Overseas Properties had more than 15 projects, and Jewel of the Seas was just one of them. Antonio Maccarone served as a real estate listing agent for our company on the other side of the region; I was never involved in the Mafia as it was proved in the trials. “Give his blessing in exchange for a percentage” is a severe and totally false accusation made by the reporters. Several times in the court and directly to the reporters, we proved that I had never been the godfather of Maccarone’s son. I am not Catholic and have never been the godfather of anyone; this can also be proven with the church’s records that we will try obtain. On top of this, Maccarone had never been accused before of this case in which he was as well acquitted. Maccarone was not connected to the JOS project. I have never known anyone from the Mancuso family, and these were not mixed up in the probes as they don’t have anything to do with the other case or Jewel of the Seas. This is a pure invented story, there has never been in any document from the court during the cases any relationship between Maccarone and Jewel of the Seas.
Here you will find the document called: “Assolve Maccarone”.
Jewel of the Sea was one of the several projects that VFI Overseas Properties promoted and sold. To clarify, VFI was not the developer and didn’t receive money from the developer, as proven in court. The shareholder of the Jewel of the Sea construction company, Antonio Cuppari, was accused of money laundering for the mafia and being a member of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia group. He was found guilty of Mafia associations but acquitted for money laundering as it was proven that the money for the project came directly from the clients. In the court’s declarations, when Cuppari was interrogated he declared that he didn’t mention that he had any previous charges because he was afraid that Fitzsimons and I would not have worked with him if we knew. In the transcription of the interrogatory, the prosecutor himself also comments that they knew that he wouldn’t comment about his criminal activity with VFI.
Here you will find the document called: “Interrogatorio Cuppari”.
The reporters allege that I was laundering money for the ‘Ndrangheta when not even for Cuppari the prosecutors could prove this as the money invested in the project was the clients’ funds. It is also crucial to notice that the money went from the clients to the law firm which, before paying the developer or the commission to VFI, reviewed fiduciary insurance from the developer in favor of the buyers and other due diligence, then if everything was correct, the lawyer paid directly to VFI the commission and the rest to the developer who invested the money into the project.
Here you will find the document called: “Sentenza Metropolis con esecutività”.
The reporters contradict themselves because they are accusing me of scamming the clients and, at the same time, portraying the Jewel of the Sea project as a facade for laundering money for the mafia. This is fake, contradictory, and proven false in court.
VFI was selling several different projects, and Jewel of the Seas was just one of them. The company had several costs and employees, so after the fees, taxes, and other expenses were paid, the shareholders received their dividends. I didn’t receive money directly from Jewel of the Seas, but the dividend from the company after the expenses and taxes were paid.
VFI was only a broker for the Jewel of the Seas project which was reviewed by more than 15 lawyers, being Giambrone the main law firm.
- The due diligence was done by Giambrone’s law firm that produced a report making sure that neither the land, developer, nor client had any issues.
- The lawyer had to confirm that the developer had subscribed to an insurance policy in favor of the clients to cover the 100% of the amount paid by the client in the case of any problem.
- The lawyer had as well an insurance policy for professional mistakes that re-assured his work and the money invested by the clients.
The Jewel of the Seas project was confiscated for mafia charges against Cuppari but not for money laundry. Giambrone insurance was brought to court by the clients who were asking for the reimbursement of the money and were partially compensated by the insurance company. VFI wasn’t involved in those cases because the role of VFI was just as a real estate broker. VFI or I were never sued for the development of Jewel of the Sea because we were not developers or had any responsibility for this.
The money flow was reconstructed and proven in the trials, and all the documents are public and therefore could be checked by anyone who wants to know the facts. The media allegedly states that a prosecutor says that “it was impossible to demonstrate the money flow,” which is another lie.
The prosecutor’s main argument for the tax evasion charge was that the tax amnesty was not valid because I didn’t pay for the extra confidentiality benefit. The other part of this charge was the “association for money laundering.” Still, the theory was that together with my lawyer, accountant, and bookkeeper, I had reinvested the money from the “invalid” tax shield in other businesses in Italy, and that constituted money laundry as the money was from tax evasion. Of course, it was a totally unfounded theory that was quickly defeated in court, and I was fully acquitted of all these charges.
Here you will find the document called: “SENTENZA BLACK MONEY estratto con esecutività”.
On the other side, I was accused and convicted in the first-degree for “esterovestizione societaria” which means tax inversion or pretending to have a company abroad that is actually in Italy. The theory was that I had the companies abroad as a way to avoid paying taxes in Italy where the business was allegedly operating.
Here you will find the document called: “SENTENZA BLACK MONEY estratto con esecutività”.
It was again a weak theory from the beginning because usually, this kind of crime is committed with companies in countries where such companies don’t have to pay taxes, also it was known by everybody that we had working offices in all those cities abroad because there was where the clients were coming from. Not to mention the offices in Tunisia that even the reporters asked for, which proves that the companies were really working abroad.
During the trial, we submitted the employee’s wages reports and the documents of the different offices. My lawyers believe that the judge left this charge to be discussed in the second-degree trial as a way to not shame too much the prosecutors after the big flop they had. Also, probably the young judges wanted a more experienced judge like those in the second-degree courts to check this charge. Even though this is unfair it is quite typical in Italy where the judicial system has three degrees.
I was later acquitted for this charge in the second-degree trial. This sentence is final and I don’t have any pending charges or criminal records as I was totally acquitted for all charges.
Here you will find the document called: “Sentenza Black Money 2nd degree”.
There are two things you need to know. First of all, in Italy, the first and second degrees are not definitive and therefore not that important as the parts can appeal up to the third degree where the matter would be finally decided in the supreme court. Secondly, just to put things in perspective, Fitzsimons was charged alongside me with the same accusation, and he was arrested in Ireland as Italy requested his extradition. The extradition between Italy and Ireland are easy to handle by the authorities as such countries have strong international agreements, however, the English didn’t comply with the Italian authorities for the extradition of Fitzsimons as it didn’t meet the criteria which was a big flap in the face of the Italian prosecutors. I was prosecuted with accusations that didn’t even fill the European standard.
Check out this article about the cancelation of the extradition request: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/ex-ira-man-henry-harry-fitzsimons-beats-mafia-fraud-extradition-1244064
It is essential to notice that, in the same sentence (first degree), the judge gave the order to unfreeze all my accounts and assets (including the Credit Suisse ones) because this type of conviction does nothing to do with dirty money or assets. Therefore, there was no reason to hold my assets as they came from proven-in-court clean sources with money earned legally and legitimately.
Here you will find the document called: “SENTENZA BLACK MONEY estratto con esecutività”. (Page 443)
Nevertheless, it is straightforward to prove that all VFI offices and businesses abroad were real. The company had more than 60 employees who could be checked and asked about their work, VFI paid taxes, operated in those countries, etc. And the actual proof: hundreds of clients approached and handled abroad. The media even interviewed some of those clients, which contradicts their allegations.
The only thing that can relate me to money laundry is the weak allegations of the first metropolis case, which were already dismissed on the warrant of arrest and finally completely canceled in the first degree when I was acquitted under the request of the prosecutor. There is nothing anymore besides that weak allegation that could relate my money to any mafia money. However, I am depicted as a professional money launderer of two or more mafia clans.
Lastly, there is something quite interesting that I would like to add that I think makes the whole situation more understandable. Let’s meet the prosecutors who accused me and which is their track record.
Is not by coincidence that the regions of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria account for more than 23% (an impressive 1/4) of the total unjust detentions in the whole country while these cities together represent less than 1% of the country’s population.
They also represent more than 37% of the total amount paid in reparations due to unjust detentions and for every reparation, these two cities pay more than 59.9% and 56.5% of the average reparation per case (of course, this is because of how unjust they are compared to the average, so the compensation has to be bigger like in the case of Fitzsimons).
If you only consider the average compensation of the other cities then Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria are overpaying 156% and 150%. This is totally outrageous!
Compared to Rome, which is the capital of Italy with about 3 million people, Catanzaro, a small town of 91,000 people has paid more than double in reparations for unjustified detentions. When compared to Milano, one of the economic centers of Italy, Catanzaro accounts for about 900% more paid in compensations for unjustified detentions. Reggio Calabria has a similar story with about 150% more than Rome and more than 600% compared to Milano.