For a while it was a very successful scam - movie material almost - and yacht purchasers in Italy didn't suspect that the yacht they had just bought had already been sold to several other purchasers before. But now yacht dealer Giulio Lolli, ex-President of Rimini Yachts, is in more trouble than he ever bargained for.
by Lee Mylchreest
Using one of the yachts he had sold multiple times as a getaway machine he sailed to Libya, probably thinking they would be too busy with their own issues to worry about a runaway yacht fraudster. But he was wrong. Now, not only is he wanted for mega-fraud in Italy, but he is reputed to be languishing in a Libyan jail, arrested for drug trafficking and alcohol possession on arrival. His future in a Tripoli prison doesn't look good according to reports in the Italian press.
Unlike it would be portrayed in the movie, it didn't all happen last week. According to Pelagos industry news, Lolli, 45, has been on the run since May 2010 following an order from Italian courts for his arrest. He is believed to be the mastermind behind a ‘mega-fraud’ reportedly worth tens of millions of euros, which saw the same yachts being sold several times over to different clients. Up to 10 other people are implicated in the fraud, including local tax officials.
When Lolli arrived in Libya aboard his yacht, his luck, already under siege, had a further blow. The yacht was searched by Libyan authorities and found to be carrying cocaine and strong alcohol, both forbidden in the country. Upon Lolli’s incarceration Libyan authorities informed the ex-president of Rimini Yacht of the international arrest warrant issued for him by Italian magistrates and an extradition procedure was started.
Prior to the outbreak of the recent conflicts in Libya, Lolli declared that he was opposed to his extradition, as he would. Italian diplomats have since left Libya's capital Tripoli for security reasons, making pursuance of the extradition order and contact with Lolli difficult. Internet sources report that in the past month there have been outbreaks of violence and escapes at Al-Jadida jail in Tripoli, where Lolli is known to have been held since mid-January. Did he escape as well? No-one knows.
In addition to the charges he faces in Italy, Lolli also risks a long jail term in Libya not only for the drugs and alcohol found on his yacht, but also for the false documents he presented to Libyan authorities upon his arrival in the country.
Now the yachts which had been sold multiple times have been returned to their first buyer, leaving the intermediary buyers with, well, nothing. The yachts had been impounded in Italy while the investigations took place into the now bankrupt Rimini Yacht company. According to Italian news reports, five yachts have been returned to Fincompany. The yachts are valued in the vicinity of €1-2million.
The yacht used by Lolli to escape to Italy is believed to be still languishing in Libya. It, along with its co-escapee, would seem to have an uncertain future.
But the movie plot is not over yet, as while Lolli could be in jail in Tripoli, he could have escaped and be in Egypt, Tunisia or anywhere in the world. Maybe the yacht is with him. We'll have to wait for the story's ending before Hollywood moves in.
Watch this space...
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8:10 PM Fri 8 Jul 2011 GMT
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