Ex-Betis chief in fraud investigation

LAST UPDATED: 28 Feb, 2008 @ 10:40
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Owners homeless after discovering beach-front apartments are – in fact – rental apartments

JUDGES in Almería have opened a fraud investigation into the former president of a top Spanish football club.

Gerardo Martínez Retamero, who was in charge of Sevilla-based club Real Betis between 1983-89, is alleged to have sold apartments in a beach-front complex in El Ejido as homes even though they were registered as rental apartments.

This has left the owners in limbo as under Spanish law they can only live in their homes for one month a year. For the remaining 11 months, the property has to be available on short term lets to holidaymakers.

“Nobody knew that they were tourist apartments until now. The authorities have told us that we are obliged to rent out the apartments for 11 months out of 12,” apartment owner Miguel Sillas said.

The owners have also been hit with a huge tax bill. Under Spanish law, purchasers have to pay 7 per cent tax on residential property. However, owners of tourist apartments have to give 16 per cent of the purchase price to the taxman.

Retamero, who unsuccessfully stood for election as head of Spain’s FA in 2004, has denied any wrongdoing, stating he is “a victim of subtle blackmail” by the owners of the apartments in the Lagos de Almerimar complex.

“From day one, they were sold as tourist apartments. This was stated in the private contracts that were signed by the buyers.”

He also added it a common practice that town councils register residential property as tourist apartments “as an excuse to build more homes.”

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