Skip to main content

1902 Southwest 22nd Street in Miami and Carlos Ramon Polit Faggioni (Google Maps, Getty)

A Merrick Manor condo in Coral Gables is among properties linked to an alleged bribery scheme involving a former government official beleaguered in Ecuador.

Carlos Ramon Polit Faggioni, a former Comptroller General of Ecuador, allegedly received $8 million in bribes from Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht from 2010 to 2014 in return for using his high-ranking position to benefit of the company, according to a federal indictment filed in Miami. Polit was arrested on March 28, several days after the indictment was filed.

Odebrecht himself is infamous for being involved years ago in massive, large-scale corruption schemes across Latin America. The company, which agreed to pay several fines worth millions of dollars, has since been renamed Novonor.

According to the indictment, Polit worked with an unnamed relative to funnel Odebrecht’s kickback money through 14 Florida front companies who then laundered the funds by buying or renovating properties in Miami-Dade County. To keep the money away from Polit, his relative allegedly registered the Florida companies in the names of partners, often without their knowledge.

Polit had told the Odebrecht official that his relative would “disappear the money”, according to the indictment.

Ecuador created the Office of the Comptroller General to prevent and investigate fraud and corruption related to public funds. Polit, who held the position from 2007 to 2017, used his influence to prevent the imposition of fines on Odebrecht’s construction projects in Ecuador in exchange for bribes, according to the act of charge.

Authorities are seeking the confiscation of three properties allegedly linked to the bribe money. They are: Unit 702 at Merrick Manor at 301 Altara Avenue, a Miami office building at 1902 Southwest 22nd Street, and a vacant site at 1010-1030 Northwest Ninth Court, north of the Miami River.

The 1,107-square-foot Merrick Manor condo has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, according to property records. JC Funds LLC paid $482,900 for the unit in 2019, the year Merrick Manor was completed.

The four-story, 12,961-square-foot office building was built in 1972 on 0.3 acres, records show. The 1900 Office Building LLC entity purchased the property in 2016 for $2.7 million. The indictment says $1.4 million was transferred from one of the Florida front companies to an escrow account for the purchase in May 2016.

It is unclear whether JC Funds and 1900 Office Building were one of the Florida front companies allegedly used in the scheme, as the indictment does not name the entities.

Two other properties were reportedly linked to the scheme but are not subject to forfeiture proceedings. Polit and his parent, through the shell companies, paid $2.6 million for an unidentified Coral Gables office building in 2016, according to the indictment.

And they reportedly bought a two-story, five-bedroom home on a 0.4-acre lot with a pool at 7233 Los Pinos Boulevard in the upscale Cocoplum neighborhood of Gables. More than $3.6 million was transferred from an escrow account to one of the shell companies for the home transfer in 2017, according to the indictment.

The allegedly ill-gotten money was also used to buy restaurants, a dry cleaner and other businesses. When Odebrecht asked to pay Polit by bank transfer instead of cash, the money passed through three Panamanian companies, according to prosecutors.

Besides Odebrecht, Polit also allegedly accepted $500,000 from an unidentified Ecuadorian businessman in exchange for helping him secure contracts from Ecuador’s state-owned insurance company Seguros Sucre, prosecutors say.

This is not Polit’s first accusation regarding Odebrecht’s alleged bribes. The 72-year-old was tried and convicted in absentia in his native Ecuador. He escaped conviction because he fled to Miami ahead of his 2018 trial.