Hundreds of Belgians have been waiting for their money for five years after a failed investment in a resort in Cape Verde, an archipelago off the coast of Africa. The hotel in which the Belgians invested was never completed. “Pano” brings their story tonight for the first time and examines what happened to their money. Gunther from Geraardsbergen sold his barber shop in order to invest. “We were just tricked,” he says.
” Here it was,” says Gunther. We are in front of the business in Zandbergen, a sub-municipality of Geraardsbergen, where he worked as a hairdresser for 15 years. “Kapsalon Casoël, that’s the name of my hair salon”, he says with a certain pride. Business is going well, kid Gunther has to have neck surgery. It is difficult to continue working as a hairdresser and he sells his business in 2016.
In 2019 Gunther will travel to Cape Verde together with his wife Kristel. “After a period of illness, it was completely ‘no tension’ there. That was good,” he says. During their stay, they come across an advertisement for an investment in the country. It concerns an investment in the colossal resort “White Sands”, which will be built on the Cape Verdean island of Boa Vista. “We also met other people from Belgium who were very satisfied with that.” That convinces Gunther and his wife.
WATCH – “Pano” investigated where the money of the Belgian investors went. See how we did it here:
Gunther and Kristel are referred to a broker in Aarschot pass away the investments in White Sands to the ground. “We were promised all sorts of things there. That we would receive monthly interest on our investment: the first five years 7 percent
, then another 5 percent for ten years.” Gunther can buy two units in the hotel. “And that would then be our property, both land and building.”
It would be a carefree investment, completely according to Cape Verde’s slogan “no tension”
According to the broker, there is no risk associated with the task. “It would be a carefree investment, completely in line with Cape Verde’s ‘no tension’ slogan. Ideal for us, because we wanted to take it easy,” says Gunther. On May 17, 2019, he signed an agreement. He invests all the money from the sale of his barber shop in the hotel, 400,000 euros in total. Shortly afterwards, on June 3, he receives confirmation that the agreement has been completed.
But the next day a completely different message arrives in his mailbox. He gets a quick that his returns must be reduced. The construction of the resort is now on hold. In the end, Gunther will barely see any of the promised monthly interest. “Looking back, we were put in the bag”, he doesn’t mince words. “I sometimes have nightmares about it, it gives me a lot of tension,” he says. But Gunther and Kristel are not alone. Hundreds of Belgians invested in the White Sands hotel.
WATCH – This is what the giant luxury resort “White Sands” looks like at this minute:
Hundreds of Belgians
” Pano” spoke with 30 Belgians who recently invested in the luxury resort of White Sands. Their investments were largely made by means of the broker from Aarschot, or by means of at least four other brokers with whom they cooperated. Especially between 2015 and 2019, this network of brokers mediated in the sale of the luxury resort. The actual hotel developer is a British group called “The Resort Group”. The money was transferred directly to them into an account in Gibraltar, where The Resort Group is headquartered.
According to our information, at least 588 of the 835 units in the Cape Verdean hotel sold at an average of 200,000 euros each. A large part, between 250 and 350 units, would have been bought by Belgians. This is apparent, among other things, from email traffic from the Belgian estate agent that our editors were able to view. It is estimated that a total of more than 60 million euros in investments are involved.
How does the broker react?
The real estate agency from Aarschot and his lawyer were ” Pano” several times for comment, but they would not give an interview. In writing, the broker stated the following: “I was not informed at any time during my assignment toddler mediation of objective information regarding actual difficulties on the part of The Resort Group, let alone that I would have concealed such information from the candidate buyers.” After that we kept asking for an interview, in the end an interview appointment was canceled at the last minute.
Tuesday, a day before the broadcast of the report of “Pano” said the estate agent “understands very well that there are buyers who feel disadvantaged by The Resort Group because the contractual agreements have apparently not yet been fulfilled.” In the meantime, the broker’s site has been taken offline.
Gunther invested in the resort in May 2019. When several investors passed away “Pano” could speak, the promised payouts had already been stopped or reduced. Meanwhile, the construction of the resort was anything but smooth sailing. Karel, a retired orthodontist from Hasselt who recently invested 260,000 euros, could also see this with his own eyes.
It’s actually a ghost resort
” The most disturbing thing is that the job is there. That building is there: it has floors, electricity, everything is painted white. But there are no roads. The swimming pools have been dug out, but are empty. There is no greenery,” says Karel. “And that’s very frustrating. That building just stands there, on the beautiful hair of Santa Monica in Boa Vista. It’s actually a ghost resort.”
There is no clear explanation for problems with payouts and construction. The Resort Group, the British developer of the hotels, refers to “force majeure”. “It was about problems with investments from British pension funds, Brexit, and covid was added to that: no tourism means no occupancy of the hotels,” says Karel. The estate agent cannot provide an explanation either. “There has never been any clear communication from them,” says Gunther.
Gunther for the business where he worked as a hairdresser for 15 years.
In the meantime, construction has been at a standstill for at least four years, and the investors have not been getting the promised income for some time. Gunther thus saw most of his savings go up in smoke. He now lives smaller, in an apartment on the coast, and teaches adults in an evening school. Karel and Gunther readily admit that they were gullible in the purchase. “I still don’t understand how we are so brainwashed by pass away promotion,” says Gunther. “On the other hand, we were really tricked by the pass away broker. If I could turn back the clock, I would do it immediately.”
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