Mexican TV presenter Inés Gómez Mont and her husband, tax attorney Víctor Manuel Álvarez Puga, have been missing for more than a year while fleeing their country’s judiciary who are looking for them on organized crime and money laundering charges. Interpol has issued red files for its location in dozens of countries. The mystery was solved by another standoff between the couple and the courts, this time in the United States. Both are facing a civil suit in a Florida court over the debt of more than $4 million on a mortgage loan they purchased in July 2021. Trial documentation shows that Gómez Mont and Álvarez Puga have pledged two pieces of land in Miami and Palm Beach counties totaling $11.3 million (about 219.3 million pesos) to guarantee payment. Documents reviewed by EL PAÍS show that both characters live in Florida, where they own real estate assets, while authorities in Mexico consider them fugitives from justice.
Gómez Mont and Álvarez Puga filed with Chemtov Mortgage Group Corp on July 29, 2021. a $4.4 million (about 85.4 million pesos) mortgage loan. They used the companies Casa Mia Pinecrest Corp of Delaware – classified as a tax haven in the USA – and 4985 Stables LLC, incorporated in Miami, to process the transaction. In the loan documentation, Gómez Mont signs as President of the Casa Mia Pinecrest company. For 4985 Stables LLC, Jonathan Choghi, a figurehead of Álvarez Puga, who has previously been involved in another real estate transaction for the couple in the US: the purchase of American singer-actress Cher’s Miami Beach home, signed as administrator and is 15, Paid 5 million dollars, as documented by the portal political animal.
The companies founded by the couple own the two mortgaged properties. One is a 1,170-square-foot home in Miami County’s exclusive Town & Ranch Estates neighborhood and features seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a pool, movie theater and gym. The purchase was made through Casa Mia Pinecrest Corp. on July 28, 2021 – the day before the mortgage loan application – at a cost of $6.3 million. The second property is a 1,190-square-foot home in the city of Wellington, Palm Beach County, that has its own swimming pool and riding arena. This property was purchased in April 2019 through 4985 Stables LLC for an amount of almost five million dollars.
The company that originated the couple’s mortgage loan assigned the debt to Miami Wellington LLC, which filed the civil lawsuit against Gómez Mont, Álvarez Puga and their two companies in May of this year when the deadlines for paying the debt. Miami Wellington LLC first requested that the judge execute the mortgage agreement and allow him to take over the two properties in order to sell them and recover the promised money. However, on August 18, the plaintiff firm told the court that it had contacted the debtors, with whom it had signed a mortgage forbearance agreement.
The agreement was to set December 31 as the new end date for paying off the debt in multiple payments. Miami Wellington LLC said that up to that point, the debtors had made scheduled payments — with no details of the amount — showing that Gómez Mont and Álvarez Puga are taking steps to keep their Florida real estate assets while they are in Mexico demanded by the judiciary for a multi-million embezzlement of public coffers. This newspaper tried to get in touch with the couple through an intermediary who sent them a request for an interview, but this was not answered.
The Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) accused Gómez Mont of running a network of shell companies that siphoned nearly 3,000 million pesos (about $154.2 million) from the Republic’s Interior Ministry budget , when its leader was Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, now Senator of the Republic for the PRI. The investigation found that resources intended to be used to improve the country’s prisons were transferred through mock contracting to “billing” companies that have neither infrastructure nor staff but pretend to provide services. These front companies, in turn, transferred the money to other billing companies, with whom they conducted nearly 1,500 banking transactions to cover up the resources’ trail. Prosecutors allege that some of the money laundered had the couple’s bank accounts as its final destination. A Nov. 9 ruling overturned the tax evasion charges. The rest is still valid.
When FGR received the arrest warrant for Gómez Mont and Álvarez Puga on charges of diversion of resources, money laundering and organized crime in September 2021 and then the Interpol red file in October, the couple were no longer in Mexico but in Florida, where they had been received the $4.4 million mortgage loan.
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