Court seizes part of Monte Palace

Property in Funchal worth tens of millions seized

Court seizes part of Monte Palace 1The lawsuit filed by the bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos against the Madeiran businessman Joe Berardo had already allowed the seizure of two apartments in Lisbon and now comes to a property in Funchal worth tens of millions of euros.

Following the foreclosure of two apartments in Lisbon, the case initiated by Caixa Geral de Depósitos against Joe Berardo has a new development, the website ECO established from court sources. The Central Civil Court of the Funchal Court ruled this week, as a precautionary measure, the seizure of Monte Palace Tropical Garden, a property donated by the Madeiran businessman to his own Berardo Foundation in 1988 and which is also his residence. The 70,000 square metre property is thought to be worth several tens of millions of euros.

Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BCP and Novo Banco, who are believed to be owed 962 million euros, had already made progress a few weeks ago in a joint lawsuit against Joe Berardo after negotiations over a total debt of around €1 billion collapsed. And at the end of June, TV station SIC revealed that the court had seized two apartments in Lisbon belonging to Joe Berardo, worth about four million euros. The more valuable of the two is a T5 where Berardo stays when he is in Lisbon. The court procedure followed a little-used legal path in establishing that the eventual beneficiary owner of the apartments was really the businessman.

Now CGD has filed another lawsuit, this time in Funchal, filed by Abreu Advogados, and has been able to secure the foreclosure of that property by debts from the Berardo Foundation to the public bank of around 350 million euros, ECO learned. Officially, neither party comments on the case, decided this week in the Funchal Central Civil Court. The Madeiran businessman now has 30 days to appeal the court decision.

Court seizes part of Monte Palace 3Monte Palace Tropical Garden ended up at the hands of Berardo in 1987. Information on the Monte Palace website reveals, “In 1897 Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues acquired the farm and, inspired by the palaces he had seen on the banks of the Rhine River built a palace-like residence that was later transformed into a hotel, Monte Palace Hotel. In 1943 Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues passed away. Unfortunately, his family did not follow up on his project, which led to the closure of the hotel, but in the meantime went to the financial institution “Caixa Económica do Funchal”.
In 1987, that financial institution sold Monte Palace to the businessman who, in turn, donated it to the Foundation that he founded. And it was from there that Monte Palace Tropical Garden was born, officially inaugurated in 1991 after restoration works.

The property’s website also explains that it was donated in 1988 by the Madeiran businessman to the Berardo Foundation. “The conditions were thus created to gather the energy and the means to fully recover the buildings and garden that had been abandoned since 1945”.  “José Berardo and his wife Carolina have personally dedicated themselves to this great work”, it adds. At Monte Palace there is a part of Berardo’s tile collection, a museum, and a garden. with “an abundant collection of exotic plants from the four corners of the world, along with swans and ducks that populate the central pond, free-flowing peacocks and chickens,” reads the site.

Joe Berardo found himself in the midst of strong political and media pressure after his parliamentary hearing in May on the Caixa Geral de Depósitos management committee. In his unreserved style, Berardo revealed the scheme used to dilute Caixa’s access to his art collection, given indirectly as collateral for the loans.



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