Published On: Thu, Nov 30th, 2023

Heavy fine for Canadian businessman Di Palma

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MARIGOT — The court in Marigot holds Canadian businessman Mario di Palma responsible for the bankruptcy of the French-side construction company Deldevert. The court sentenced him to a 6 months conditional prison sentence, a fine of €10,000 ($11,000) and a ban on practicing any commercial or industrial profession or a management function in Saint Martin for five years.

A second defendant in the bankruptcy, identified by the French-side newspaper Le Pelican as A.K. received a fine of €500 ($550) with five years of probation.

Di Palma bought Deldevert in December 2017, shortly after the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma. The court found Di Palma guilty of the bankruptcy for failing to maintain a bookkeeping and for diverting assets from the company to the tune of €1.6 million ($1.76 million). The court also issued an arrest warrant for Di Palma.

The Canadian businessman was not present when the court presented its verdict. He was represented by attorney Hadid.

The prosecution accused Di Palma of taking advantage of a disaster (Hurricane Irma and its aftermath) and of vulnerable and desperate people. Di Palma buys businesses, the prosecution pointed out, but never in his name. He routinely puts a figurehead in place as manager. In the case of Deldevert, this was suspect A.K.

K. told the court at a previous hearing that everything seemed to be above board until the beginning of 2018 when he discovered a significant debt in unpaid social premiums and another debt of €100,000 ($110,000). A few days after this discovery, he stepped down.

Di Palma’s attorney Hadid said that his client did not know French law very well as a way to explain why the businessman had been unaware of the obligation to maintain a proper bookkeeping.

Di Palma later surfaced as the owner of District 721, an entertainment center in Simpson Bay that in the meantime also has gone out of business.

Di Palma considers appealing the verdict.


Related articles:
Prosecution demands prison sentences in Deldevert bankruptcy case
The questionable background of the owner of District 721
Rolando Brison’s political interference with economic controls is an old story
Deldevert affair: bankruptcy judged before an extraordinary trial