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PostPosted: April 9th, 2013, 7:12 pm 

Joined: August 19th, 2009, 3:38 pm
Posts: 12
Location: Messina, Italy - London, UK
Dear Members:

During the last month our firm has been closely following the developments relating to the ‘Operazione Metropolis’ carried out by the Procura della Repubblica of Reggio Calabria.
We personally met the authorities in charge of the criminal proceedings against many Calabrian builders and the precautionary seizures relating to their companies/assets.

RE: Current general situation
I would like to clarify that the current criminal actions ascribed to all the individuals involved in the ‘Operazione Metropolis’ are not definitive.
Actually, this is the initial stage of the criminal proceedings issued against them.

The precautionary measures against the administrators of the companies involved and the precautionary seizures of the building companies and assets are currently subjected to changes and continuous developments arising from the ongoing criminal proceedings.

RE: Judicial Administration
At this stage four judicial administrators have been appointed by the Court for dealing with the assets seized to the companies involved in the alleged crimes. The judicial administrators will be working under the supervision and coordination of a ‘Giudice Delegato’ appointed by the Tribunal of Reggio Calabria.

I have to underline that the precautionary seizures and the appointment of the judicial administrators are only provisional measures. These measures will be operative until a more definitive stage of the criminal proceedings.

The precautionary seizure of the companies and correspondent assets can be revoked at any time. In the case of the seizures being revoked the original administrators of the companies will return to their original positions.

If the criminal actions will be definitely ascribed to the original administrators of the building companies involved, the seizures will be confirmed, so converted to ‘confisca’ -a sort of definitive expropriation of the properties. Thus, the shares of the companies interested and the assets owned by them will be definitely transferred to the Italian Government –more specifically to the ‘Agenzia Nazionale’ in Reggio Calabria.

In the meantime, before a potential revocation of the seizure or a likely ‘confisca’, the current seizures can last up to 1 and a half years. This time-scale could be extended for one further year. The appointments of the current judicial administrators can last up to 6 months.
Their appointments can be extended -this is a very likely scenario considering the complexity and the volume of the case.
The current judicial administrators can obviously resign at any time.
They can also be dismissed by the Court if inefficient.

I would like to clarify that the Judicial Administration is currently in charge of continuing -when possible- the ongoing business activity of the seized companies.
They have now to administrate the building companies and corresponding assets in the best interest of the companies themselves. This is to guaranty that the companies will be returned to a ‘regular/good status’ to their original owners in the case of revocation of the seizure and/or in case the original administrator of the company being eventually acquitted.
In addition, working in the interest of the company would guarantee that the company will boast a ‘regular/good status’ in the event of the seizure being finally confirmed (so, converted to ‘confisca’). In that case, the property would be transferred to the Italian Government (‘Agenzia Nazionale’). 
After having received a report from the Judicial Administration, if the Court considers that it is not appropriate to continue the commercial activity of one of the companies seized, they will declare it bankrupt.

On the other hand, the Judicial Administration also has to diligently deal with all the pending aspects related to the companies seized (i.e.: credits, debts, pending contractual relations, third parties interests and other rights raised previously to the seizure).

Based on that, all subjects who can prove to have a credit -or any kind of different legitimate right to be claimed against any of the building companies involved in the seizures- have the right to participate in a process for having their credit and/or legitimate pretensions recognised.
This opportunity potentially relates to all buyers who want to recover the deposit paid for a failed purchase procedure and/or to those buyers who completed a defective purchase procedure.

RE: Possible actions to be undertaken
I) Potential claimants
Trying to be part of the process to be recognised as creditors of the building companies seized is now the only feasible route which would guarantee at best individual positions of:
a) buyers who never completed their purchase procedure despite having paid the deposit;
b) other subjects potentially entitled to claim any legitimate pretension against the building companies seized (i.e.: contracts irregularly executed, etc.).

Formally requiring the Judicial Administration to recognise a credit/pretension as legitimate would potentially allow claimants to be refunded on their legitimate claims.

The required funding for satisfying claimants rights would eventually be found in the potential future incomes of the building company (if it will be continuing business) or, alternately, through the forced sale of the company assets (in case it is declared ceased or gone bankrupt).

In relation to the above, I have to add the following 2 considerations:
a) If the preliminary contract relating to a failed purchase procedure has been registered -as per the legal requirement- claimants will have preference in the potential future liquidation of the credits.
b) Claimants who have already registered an ‘ipoteca’ (which is a sort of mortgage) against the building assets will have a preference in the potential liquidation of the credits in the future.

I have to underline that if the precautionary seizures will be revoked and/or the builders acquitted, this process will lose effect and claimants would return to the stage previous to the precautionary seizure. Thus, they would have to follow the usual route of civil litigation for having their claims satisfied.

II) Third parties indirectly involved in the seizures
In any event, for preventing possible misunderstandings and other potential complications that could arise on rights relating to properties already bought through a valid process (i.e.: final deed of sale validity executed before the seizure), it is advisable for owners of properties located in the building constructions seized to start formally communicating their respective positions to the Authorities in charge of the seizures.

Though a preventive criminal seizure should not affect a property previously acquired by a third party in good faith, potential complications and/or misunderstandings can be generated by a lack of communication and coordination with the Judicial Administration.

In fact, in some cases the Judicial Administration is inevitably considering the entire building constructions as seized. In other words: there are cases in which they are informally considering all the apartments located in them as seized. This is because the judicial administrators do not yet have all the details and documentation of all the properties located in the various building complexes seized –a quite reasonable circumstance considering the vast volume of documentation related to the ‘Operazione Metropolis’.

It is also important to note that any owner of a property located in any of the building complexes seized is a co-owner of the communal spaces of the complex itself. As co-owners, they have the right and the possible obligation to participate in a hearing aimed to clarify their respective positions, interests etc.

RE: Possible legal representation of potential claimants and third parties indirectly affected by the preventive seizures
Our firm is currently representing a vast number of clients in many different matters against the building companies involved in these issues. Now, due to the recent developments, most of these matters have to be referred to and dealt by the Judicial Administration.

Our firm can provide legal advice/assistance to further clients who may have interests in being represented in issues relating to the building companies and assets seized.

For obvious reasons, we will only be able to assist clients who are willing to instruct us and in a position to quickly provide us with a clear description of their matters together with the documentation related (i.e.: preliminary contract, proof of deposit payment, previous letter before claim etc.). Also, an retainer on our fees will be required in order to provide clients with an initial assessment/advice aimed to clarify the best route to be followed for each individual position.

Clients interested in being represented by our firm can refer their case by e-mail to the follow address:
Alternately, clients can send a fax to the following number:
0039 090 896 7215

Please note that any written approach to this firm has to be accompanied by a valid proof of address, copy of the passport and contact details.

I hope the above information is helpful for you.

Kind regards,

Avv. Claudio Minasi
Studio Legale Minasi

UK Contact
61, Nightingale Road
London, E5 8NB
mobile: +44 (0) 791 686 1276
landline: +44 020 3287 3370
Italian Office
via A. M. Jaci, n. 15
98121 Messina, Italia
tel: +39 090 369 6764
fax: +39 090 896 7215

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