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Miami Entrepreneur Claudio Osorio Files For Chapter 11

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Claudio Osorio poses for a picture with President Barack Obama at a recent benefit in Miami. (Source: The Miami Herald)

Claudio Osorio poses for a picture with President Barack Obama at a recent benefit in Miami. (Source: The Miami Herald)

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MIAMI (CBS4)- High-tech entrepreneur Claudio Osorio and high-society philanthropist Amarilis Osorio filed for personal bankruptcy Friday.

Their Chapter 11 filing in Miami’s federal bankruptcy court capped a series of lawsuits that accuse the Star Island couple of duping investors to put tens of millions of dollars into Claudio Osorio’s once-fledgling business venture, InnoVida, to pay for the couple’s lifestyle.

The Osorios listed assets of $35 million and liabilities of $13.5 million in their bankruptcy petition, with $2,000 in cash on hand and no steady income. Their monthly bills total more than $71,000, according to CBS4’s news partner The Miami Herald.

Lawyers who have sued the couple and InnoVida — launched in 2005 as an innovative producer of prefabricated resin walls for affordable housing around the world — say their assets are of dubious value. They note that the Osorios’ principal asset, $20 million worth of InnoVida stock, is worthless because the company is no longer operating and has virtually no money in the bank, the Herald noted.

In addition, the couple’s one-acre home on exclusive Star Island, though listed in court papers with a value of $12 million, is heavily mortgaged with BankUnited and assessed by Miami-Dade County for substantially less, according to public records. They also owe hundreds of thousands of dollars of credit card debt to American Express, Bank of America and other institutions.

The Osorios’ bankruptcy lawyer, Geoffrey Aaronson, did not return a call or e-mail for comment. According to the bankruptcy petition, Aaronson is being paid $75,000 for his legal services from “third parties.”

The couple’s civil lawyer, Robert Zarco, who has represented them and InnoVida in various lawsuits, said he is withdrawing as their attorney because of “irreconcilable differences.”

On Friday, Nunez’s client, Chicago Bulls star Carlos Boozer, became the latest investor to sue former InnoVida CEO Claudio Osorio, Amarilis Osorio, the company, and former chief financial officer, Craig Toll, claiming they defrauded him and ex-wife Cindy, who sank $1 million into the start-up business in 2009, according to The Herald.

According to the suit, Claudio Osorio talked Boozer into investing in his company, which once boasted a board of directors with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a member.

The Boozers say Osorio and his wife used “various props to create an aura of affluence, business acumen, legitimacy and respectability,” including inviting the couple to a 2008 fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Osorio later persuaded Carlos Boozer to ask his former college teammate at Duke University, Reggie Love, who works as an assistant to President Obama, to arrange a White House meeting and help obtain a government loan for InnoVida, the suit says. In May 2009, the Boozers and Osorios visited the White House and met with Love, who introduced them to employees who worked for a government agency that funds environmentally friendly projects.

But the Boozers, like other investors such as Miami businessman Chris Korge, grew suspicious of Claudio Osorio through 2009-10 when he refused to show them InnoVida’s financial records. He assured them that the company was debt free, had tens of millions of dollars in bank deposits and that they would make a “one thousand percent” return on their investment because InnoVida was going public in China, the suit says.

According to the Miami Herald, in September 2010, Osorio invited Carlos Boozer to lunch to reassure him that his investment was solid, including showing him various documents purportedly indicating InnoVida’s work in China, Haiti and other countries.

But by January, the Boozers became increasingly nervous after The Miami Herald published a story about Osorio’s past history as an entrepreneur. The story reported that the Swiss government obtained the Justice Department’s assistance to investigate possible criminal charges against him.

Authorities there allege Osorio and others fraudulently obtained $220 million in loans from Swiss banks in the late 1990s by lying about the soundness of his previous major business venture, Miami-based CHS Electronics, a Fortune 500 company that filed for bankruptcy in 2000..

To reassure the Boozers, Amarilis Osorio invited Cindy Boozer to her Star Island home for lunch, according to the suit. Amarilis Osorio criticized the accuracy of the Herald story and said that her husband “had done nothing wrong” with CHS.

When Cindy Boozer pressed her about InnoVida’s finances, Amarilis said the company was in good shape and had a $200 million contract with the Chinese government to build 12 factories and 1,000 homes.

Amarilis also said InnoVida was securing contracts with the government’s of Ghana, Venezuela, Sudan and Haiti.

When Cindy pressured her for documentation, Amarilis produced materials that looked “more like a junior high school project than official documents from a multi-national, multimillion-dollar company.”

Last week, a court-appointed receiver who took control of InnoVida from Osorio found a corporate account at Wachovia in Miami had a balance of $87,000. Another corporate account at the Royal Bank of Canada in the Cayman Islands had a current balance of $12,000, the Herald noted.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

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