Prominent Miami Businessman Accused of Haiti Homes Fraud

Court records show some $37.5 million is gone with no progress toward pledged factory in Haiti

By Janie Campbell
|  Sunday, Mar 13, 2011  |  Updated 3:00 PM EDT
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Miami's Field Hospital in Haiti

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A Haitian boy sits outside tents at a camp in Port-au-Prince set up for people displaced from their homes.

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A prominent Miami-based entrepreneur is facing allegations of fraud from angry and well-known  lenders after their investments in his plan to build pre-fabricated homes for Haiti's homeless earthquake victims have come to naught. 

Venezulan-born Claudio Osorio is facing at least five lawsuits, according to a Miami Herald report, including those by NBA star Carlos Boozer, Miami developer and lawyer Chris Korge, and New York City developer Ryan Freedman. 

Each bought into Osorio's venture InnoVida, headquartered on Lincoln Road. Osorio told his investors the company would build a factory in Haiti that would produce 32,000 pre-fab and energy efficient cabins.

InnoVida, the Star Island resident pledged, would donate 1,000 of them; NBA players Dwight Howard, Howard Eisley, and former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, who took a trip to Haiti with Osorio, also invested. 

But progress has not been made on the Haiti initiative, and court records so far do not back Osorio's claim that InnoVida has more than $100 million in assets, including $25 million in cash. 

Instead, paperwork shows that though tens of millions were deposited into the company's bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, the balance is just $12,000, and the company's corporate account in the U.S. contains just $87,000. 

A 2009 tax filing from InnoVida showed a balance across 12 foreign accounts of $37.5 million, but court-appointed lawyer Mark Meland said “the Osorios have provided no adequate explanation" of what happened to the money. 

The Herald reports that during a deposition Friday, Osorio invoked his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination when asked if company funds had been transfered to himself, his wife, or their children, or used to pay personal expenses.

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