Do you remember Rafael Esquivel? You know, our long-serving football caudillo that got busted almost two months ago in Zurich for corruption?
The New York Times has details on the eight properties he owns in South Florida. Well, they actually belong to several holding companies but he still has direct ties to them… like the little fact that some tenants send their rent checks directly to him, in his personal name.
For those tenants, it was quite a shock to find out who their landlord was and what shady deals he was up to. Just ask Sandra Cardona, who lives with her son in a house in Hialeah belonging to the FVF’s former chairman: “I was watching the news one night and heard the name Rafael Esquivel… I was shocked. That’s the name I write on my rent check.”
Other tenants around Miami preferred to keep quiet either by caution or just not knowing enough details about the case.
But now, the U.S. government has its sights in Esquivel’s properties and, apparently, he made it easier for the feds to seize them.
Marc J. Isaacs, a real estate lawyer interviewed for the NYT article, could hardly believe Esquivel went to the trouble of transferring ownership of the properties to a shell company’s name but then forgot to tell his tenants to make their rent checks to the company,
“It could be an oversight, laziness or lack of knowledge,” Mr. Isaacs said. “But it’s wasted effort to put property in the name of an entity and then have funds go directly to the individual. In terms of asset protection, it almost defeats the purpose of doing the transfer and makes you vulnerable to creditors, including the government.”
Esquivel remains jailed in a 12-square meters cell in Switzerland, and he could lose all he owns on American soil. Back home, the Public Ministry has already frozen his bank accounts and seized some of his properties. Perhaps, he can still save some things, but it will probably require him desisting in his fight to stop his extradition, and making a deal with the U.S. authorities.
Perhaps he should ask for some advice from his FIFA colleague and former CONCACAF VP Jeffrey Webb, who seems to be better at this sort of thing.
It won’t come cheap though, as Webb gave up a lot of personal stuff just to get bail.