US real estate

Pandora associates Pensam with the offshore trusts of the Catholic order


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1 South Pine Island Road in Plantation, Florida (Nottingham Pine, Getty)

A Miami-based multi-family investment firm has received $ 14 million for its properties from a disgraced Catholic order still reeling from past revelations of pedophilia, the Pandora Papers have revealed.

Pensam Capital has received investments from two New Zealand trusts linked to the Legion of Christ for at least eight apartment complexes purchased by Pensam in Florida, Texas, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, according to the International Consortium of Journalists investigation.

The ICIJ coordinated the investigation based on a treasury of 11.9 million previously confidential documents. The files link current and former heads of state, celebrities and others to offshore trusts secretly holding hundreds of millions of dollars in assets on their behalf and, in some cases, funneling money into investments, including including real estate.

In the latest revelation, two trusts linked to the Legion of Christ – AlfaOmega Trust and Salus Trust – were created in New Zealand shortly after 2010, when the Vatican announced it would seize the operations of the order and open an investigation on allegations of sexual abuse. The trusts then reportedly funneled money to various investment opportunities, including Pensam properties. In some cases, the trusts have used limited liability companies registered in Delaware, such as when they injected $ 2 million into a Plantation multi-family complex that until recently was owned by Pensam.

The ICIJ does not identify the apartment community, saying only that it was sold in June for $ 46 million. The Real Deal reported that Pensam sold a multi-family complex at 1 South Pine Island Road in Plantation for this price, also in June.

While the revelations reveal nothing harmful or illegal, they show that the Legion of Christ was well off at a time when victims of sexual abuse by priests were fighting in court for payment. His two trusts held around $ 300 million, according to the ICIJ.

The survey also shows that U.S. real estate companies such as Pensam benefit from funds from investors with deep pockets and promise them good returns, with Pensam setting its target rate of return at around 15%, according to the ICIJ.

At the same time, these real estate companies use aggressive tactics such as charging high fees for late rents and filing evictions against their low and middle income tenants. Dozens of former and current Pensam tenants told ICIJ that community leadership is slow to respond to issues such as mold, unsafe elevators, broken appliances and flooding. But when tenants were behind on rent, Pensam and BH Management Service, its management partner on many of its properties, were quick to push for evictions and add high fees for late rents, according to the review of court records by the ICIJ.

In its response to the ICIJ, Pensam said it had not received any indication that its investors are led by the Legion of Christ.

Pensam “adheres to a comprehensive ‘know your client’ compliance program when considering whether to accept a new investor or continue a relationship with an existing investor,” the company said in its statement. Pensam “has not received, and has not received, any information which would lead Pensam to believe that any of its investors have been or are currently governed or managed by the Legion of Christ.”

A spokesperson for BH Management Services told the ICIJ that the management company is “responsible for coordinating the collection of rent from tenants, which we do in strict compliance with rental agreements and the law. , including the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] ordinance on evictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Pensam tenant in the Plantation complex invoked the CDC’s eviction moratorium in his pleadings, but still lost the case because he did not attach the CDC form, the CDC reported. HERE.

For its part, the Legion of Christ said it was not aware of the operations or conditions of the two trusts, adding that they were funded by the descendants of an important family of Mexican industrialists, including father Luis Garza Medina, one of the main leaders of the Legion. Garza’s spokesperson also denied having control over the trusts.

[ICIJ] – Lidia Dinkova

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