Published On: Tue, Sep 26th, 2023

Prosecution demands prison sentences in Deldevert bankruptcy case

MARIGOT — Mario di  Palma, owner of the defunct District 721 project in Simpson Bay and the bankrupted French-side construction company Deldevert is facing 1-year prison sentence, a €75,000 ($79,500) fine for diverting a reported €1.6 million ($1,696,000) in assets from Deldevert and an arrest warrant. The court in Marigot rules on the case on November 23.

A second suspect in the Deldevert debacle, identified by the French-side newspaper Le Pélican as A.K. is facing 6 months in prison with two years of probation, a fine of €75,000 and a commitment to compensate victims. The attorneys for both defendants asked for an acquittal.

Di Palma bought the company in 2017 and left A.K. initially in charge. The administrator in charge of controlling Deldevert soon discovered a “significant debt” in unpaid social premiums. and another inexplicable debt of €100,000.

K. becomes aware of this debt and steps down a couple of day later, in December 2019. He told the court that he is better versed in the practical side of the construction company than its administration. “They told me not to worry,” he said about the discovery of the debt. “They told me the money would be returned to the company.”

When his access to the administration was blocked, K. said that he became paranoid and he soon stepped down.

Di Palma was not present in court and let himself be represented by his attorney Hadid. In a letter to the court he stated that he had returned to Montreal to be with his pregnant wife. “I do not want to evade the court and ask to be judged in the presence of my attorney.”

The court noted that Di Palma knew there was no deposit accounting. About the sale of assets Di Palma said that he does not know the French law and that he had done it to enable the payment of employees. “Weird to buy a company without reading any documents,” the court observed.

The attorney for Deldevert told the court that many small companies have never been paid for their work and that Di Palma took €1.6 million from Deldevert.

K.’s attorney told the court that there were never any problems with accounting until the arrival of Di Palma. “He buys companies and puts strawmen in place as managers. He left my client in place as a manager without authority. He is also a victim and he did not sell any assets.”

Through his attorney, Di Palma told the court that Deldevert was already in 2012 in financial problems. He asked the court to ignore rumors.

In January 2021 StMaartenNews.com published an article that highlights the background of Di Palma, based on articles in the French-side newspaper St. Martin’s Week.

Related article: The questionable background of the owner of District 721

Guy Deldevert told St. Martin’s Week that he had given 80 percent of the shares in his company “in good confidence” to Di Palma on the condition that the latter ensured the company’s continuity and that he honor the ongoing recovery plan. Instead, Di Palma fired all employees.

A reconstruction project for the French-side residence La Lagune was transferred from Omnigate to Deldevert, at the time already under Di Palma’s control. The project was worth $2.67 million but it came to a standstill in July 2019. The court in Basse-Terre ordered the Deldevert Group to repay around $837,000, the amount the company had received as a start-up advance.

St. Martin’s Week published the following observation by Melissa Nicolas-Rembotte about Di Palma’s reputation: “When the charm no longer works, beautiful promises give way to intimidation, generally in the presence of a bodyguard.”

Di Palma did not think much of the French either, it appeared from an interview with Igor Rembotte in 2019 when he was quoted as saying: “You French are all thieves and you do not understand anything about business.”


Related articles:
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