A Mexican bureaucrat and his family’s $8.2 million Miami condo spending spree

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 7:29 PM

Bernardo Quezada Salas, presently a congressman in Mexico, might've paid cash for the luxury units at the Espirito Santo Plaza. The deals were done through FL companies owned by some combination of Quezada Salas, his wife, his sister-in-law and his brother-in-law.

A Mexican bureaucrat and his family’s $8.2 million Miami condo spending spree

On a single day in two thousand-fifth, an official of Mexico’s powerful teachers’ union and his relatives spent $6.3 million on eleventh luxury condos at a high-rise in Miami’s Brickell neighborhood.

Bernardo Quezada Salas, presently a congressman in Mexico, might've paid cash for the luxury units at the Espirito Santo Plaza. The deals were done through FL companies owned by some combination of Quezada Salas, his wife, his sister-in-law and his brother-in-law.

The year before the Brickell deals, his wife, Jessica Peredo Rincon, had paid $1.1 million for a two-bedroom unit at the swanky Setai in S Beach. Then, in two thousand-eighth, the couple bought a three-bedroom condo at a luxury tower in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., for $848.000.

The transactions — which don't seem to have been previously reported in the media — lift questions about how a union official love Quezada Salas and his family could afford so many expensive homes.

The Miami Harbinger recently on how questionable funds from overseas helped fuel the stratospheric rise of S Florida’s real-estate market. A data breach at Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca allowed journalists to sift through eleven.5 million secret documents, the so-called , and trace a string of offshore shell companies investing in local homes. Many of the companies were controlled by people .

Quezada Salas and his relatives don't show up in the papers and their transactions don’t involve offshore accounts.

“Miami historically has been a welcoming city for people from all over the world where we don’t ask questions,” said William Hardin, a Prof of genuine estate at FL International University. “[Miami genuine estate] is an anonymous luxury market driven by cash... If you were going to purchase a whole bunch of units in Charlotte, or the most-expensive house in Atlanta, people are going to ask questions. There’s more scrutiny.”

While the wave of foreign cash has boosted property tax income and created jobs, it's also driven housing prices out of reach for many locals. S FL is presently one of the - in the United States.

“We’re not building for local demand. We’re building for external demand,” Hardin said.

Quezada Salas’ union, the National Education Workers’ Union (SNTE), is Latin America’s largest with 1.4 million members. It's widely considered the most powerful — and maybe most corrupt — union in the region.

In two thousand-thirteenth, Mexican authorities arrested STNE’s mighty president, Elba Esther Gordillo, for embezzlement and organized crime. They said Gordillo — a political power broker known as La Maestra ( “the teacher”) — and three top aides stole $200 million in union funds. The 71-year-old was accused of spending the money on shopping trips at Neiman Marcus, plastic surgery and waterfront mansions in San Diego, among other boondoggles.

Between two thousand two and two thousand five, she also served as secretary common of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which governed Mexico for most of the twentieth cent and is back in power today.

Since her arrest, Gordillo has spent her days mostly in a hospital suite attached to Mexico City’s Tepepan prison or at a private hospital in the capital. The slow-moving valid case against her inches forward but her genuine estate hasn't been seized. The charges are still pending.

“She has apartments in Paris and in Buenos Aires, and she's a enormous mansion in Mexico City,” said Carlos Ornelas, an expert on Mexico’s educational system who holds a doctorate from Stanford.

Quezada Salas hasn't been charged with any crime and hasn't been the subject of public suspicion in the media. News media that report on corruption in the teachers’ union seldom mention his name.

He began in the teachers’ union in one thousand nine hundred eighty-sixth, and held various positions through two thousand fifteen, although his doesn't create clear if he held union posts between two thousand three and 2009.

News reports, including an in the highly regarded financial newspaper El Economista, declare he's had a near relationship with Gordillo’s youngest daughter, Monica Arriola, who died of brain cancer three weeks ago. Arriola, forty-four, was a senator for New Alliance, a political party that Gordillo and the SNTE created in two thousand-fifth to play a kingmaker role in national politics.

Quezada Salas won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, Mexico’s lower house, on the New Alliance ticket latest year and is presently a sitting federal legislator.

As a lawmaker, he's required to file a statement disclosing his personal assets. The disclosure isn't made public unless the legislator so chooses. Quezada Salas has kept his private.

He didn't reply to two emails sent to his legislative account. A spokesman for New Alliance, Miguel Angel Sosa, said he'd speak with Quezada Salas, but didn't immediately return messages.

Over three decades, Quezada Salas has occupied positions near to key union powerbrokers, starting with Gordillo, later with her daughter and since two thousand thirteen with current SNTE chief Juan Díaz de la Torre. He's served on the union’s national executive committee — its decision-making board — and overseen union programs with enormous budgets, such as one offering teachers subsidized housing. He’s also been in charge of funneling union funds to political campaigns.

During a two-year period ending in two thousand-fourteenth, Quezada Salas was the top union official at the National Polytechnic Institute, a sprawling Univ with more than 170.000 students and some 17.000 unionized teachers and staff.

“It’s an necessary union department there. They've higher salaries, juicier salaries,” said Jorge Javier Romero, a public policy expert who teaches at the Autonomous Metropolitan Univ in Mexico City.

Still, Romero said Quezada Salas’ salary for his union post at the institute couldn't clarify his purchase of millions of dollars in Miami real estate.

“At the most, his valid salary would've been 30.000 pesos. That’s not even $2.500 a month,” Romero said, making a coarse calculation of the exchange rate at the time.

Whether Quezada Salas had exterior sources of income wasn't known. His father-in-law, Hector Peredo Vazquez, owns a business based in Veracruz state that news reports declare has grown large by offering appliances and other goods to teachers on credit, collecting higher-than-normal interest rates.

The 11 condos owned by Quezada Salas and his family gave them control of ten % of the units at the Espirito Santo Plaza. The 36-story tower includes office space for and law firm Fowler White, as well as a Crossfit and the luxury Conrad hotel. The buildingwas renamed Brickell Arch after being sold latest year for in a deal that didn't comprise the hotel or condos.

The companies that control the Brickell condos have exotic-sounding names such as Xiber, Cache and Ilcati. They're registered in the names of Quezada Salas, his wife, his brother-in-law, Hector Peredo Rincon, or his sister-in-law, Claudia Peredo Rincon. While it's not known for sure, it's likely that the purchases were made in cash because number mortgages were recorded in Miami-Dade public records.

Frank Segredo, a Coral Gables lawyer who set up the companies in two thousand-fifth, said he couldn’t recollect anything about the deals. He said he didn't recollect working with Quezada Salas or his family. (Segredo was later disbarred over an involving mortgage fraud.)

Flight capital from Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela has traditionally boosted S Florida’s real-estate market. But Mexican money is making an impact, too.

Mexico’s first lady, Angélica Rivera, bought a on Key Biscayne. The wife of Alejandro Murat Hinojosa, one of the country’s top housing executive and the son of the former Gov of Oaxaca state, owns in Boca Raton. And the son of Carlos Romero Deschamps, a Mexican senator and boss of the oil workers’ union, spent for two condos in Miami Beach.

For Quezada Salas and his family, the Brickell units were a poor investment.

In two thousand-twelfth, Quezada Salas’ brother-in-law sold one of the units for $550.000, a loss of $83.000 from the original price paid.

Quezada Salas and family bought at the altitude of the real-estate bubble in two thousand-fifth, paying $5.6 million for the ten condos they still own.

Today, those same units have a market cost of $4.1 million, according to the Miami-Dade property appraiser.

Condos at the former Espirito Santo don’t sell very often, said one local Realtor who asked not to be named. “Most people think it’s just the hotel and offices,” he said.

Quezada Salas and his wife also sold a three-bedroom condo they owned at Jade Shore in Sunny Isles for $800.000 in two thousand-twelfth. They’d paid $848.000 four years earlier.

But the two-bedroom at the Setai in S Shore turned out to be a steal.

The unit, owned in the title of Quezada Salas’ wife and bought with the assistance of a $770.000 mortgage from HSBC, is presently worth $2.6 million, more than double the price paid in 2004.

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