Real estate project in Mexico: a rich businessman sued for 4.5 million

Two Montrealers turned to the courts to recover the $4.5 million they allegedly lost by engaging with a wealthy businessman in a real estate project in Mexico which ultimately never saw the light of day.

Georges Haligua Cohen, 68, “allegedly scammed [Laurent Levy et Avidan Grischkan] to extract from them the total money invested by making them dangle a grandiose development project,” we allege in the lawsuit filed recently at the Montreal courthouse.

One of the pursuers, Laurent Levy, always saw Mr. Haligua Cohen “as a businessman who had been very successful in real estate” and a “mentor”.

A summary of the project in Mexico created by an architectural firm was allegedly presented to Laurent Levy and Avidan Grischkan in order to convince them to invest in the project.

PHOTO filed as proof

Half of the project

In May 2018, the businessman reportedly proposed to Mr. Levy to invest in the development of a luxury 30-story tower in Mexico City’s richest neighborhood. He then allegedly offered to pay $6.8 million for half the shares.

To confirm everything, Mr. Levy would have received a copy of the promise to purchase the land.

The mortgage broker therefore had to borrow from relatives in order to raise the necessary funds.

“It was like my retirement plan,” said Laurent Levy in an interview with the Newspaper.

In all, 22 transactions totaling $4.66 million were allegedly made in a year and a half to the Mexican bank account of a company headed by Mr. Haligua Cohen, created for the project.

During this period, Mr. Levy and Grischkan traveled to Mexico to visit the site, meet stakeholders and see a model of the project. They even formalized the partnership with a notary.


A model of the project was reportedly shown to Laurent Levy and Avidan Grischkan during a trip to Mexico.

PHOTO filed as proof

Doubts

It was only in March 2021 that Laurent Levy began to have doubts about the project, when Mr. Haligua Cohen told him that there would be delays in construction.

Laurent Levy therefore contacted a Mexican lawyer in order to check the status of the land linked to the project. He would have learned “with amazement” that it belongs to the Australian embassy and that the name of the seller appearing on the promise to purchase does not exist, it is alleged in the lawsuit.

Worse still, the Mexican notary who prepared the document would not have the right to act since he would have already been involved in fraud in the past.

Refunds

Today, Laurent Levy and Avidan Grischkan are trying to find the money invested in the real estate project. They could only have gotten their hands on $113,000, “all that remains available,” according to a message from Mr. Haligua Cohen put into evidence.

The two Montrealers therefore pursued him in order to recover the missing millions. They are also seeking $500,000 in punitive damages and $150,000 in statutory damages.

“I’m not going to give up until I get my money back,” illustrated Mr. Levy, represented by Me Sébastien Dubois.

Mr. Haligua Cohen was this week refused to allow legal proceedings to take place in Mexico, where he now resides. His lawyer did not respond to the request of the Newspaper.

The latter has already had problems with the law in the past. A company he chaired, Méga Byte Information, was fined $450,000 in 2017 as part of a vast operation against deceptive telemarketing. Mr. Haligua Cohen was also accused in this case, but obtained a stay of proceedings due to unreasonable delays.

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