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Brazilian Ambassador calls on EcoHouse to prove links

The Brazilian Ambassador has refuted EcoHouse's claim that a misunderstanding led to the government disavowing any connection to the firm. 

SINGAPORE: The Brazilian Ambassador to Singapore on Monday (Aug 18) called on EcoHouse to prove its links to the Brazilian government, as it refuted the developer’s claim that a misunderstanding led to the government disavowing any connection to the firm.

Speaking to TODAY over the phone, Mr Luis Fernando de Andrade Serra said: “We believe it is high time for EcoHouse to prove that it has official links with the CEF (Brazilian state-owned bank Caixa Economica Federal). It said there was a misunderstanding, but it has to prove the basis of this misunderstanding. If it can’t prove there is a link, nothing can be said to be a misunderstanding.”

The United Kingdom-based developer, which has shuttered its Suntec Tower 2 offices, is facing legal action from some investors trying to recover their capital investments.

Last week, the Brazilian Embassy said the Brazilian government had no dealings with EcoHouse, which had touted itself as the only UK company picked officially by the Brazilian government to build developments under Minha Casa, Minha Vida (MCMV), a national housing programme.

The embassy had added that it was not even aware that the company operated in Brazil until recently, when complaints from Singapore investors mounted.

In response to the embassy’s statement, EcoHouse chief operations officer Deen Bissessar said last Friday that it was “clearly a result of misunderstanding and/or miscommunication with the embassy and their resulting search, as we are most certainly in compliance for our operations”.

He told TODAY: “We operate within what can be viewed as the public-private sector of the MCMV programme, which is where we do not utilise government funds to construct, but end buyers are financed by the programme to purchase our properties. Perhaps this is where the error has been made.”

Mr Bissessar also said he could provide documentation from the firm’s Brazilian division to back up what he was saying. TODAY’s subsequent email queries to him went unanswered.

Mr Serra reiterated that the Brazilian government had found “there is no link whatsoever” with EcoHouse. “We feel sorry for these investors,” he said.

Various media reports have put the number of Singapore investors in EcoHouse projects at between 800 and 1,500. Up to S$70 million had reportedly been ploughed into three housing projects. Reports have been filed against EcoHouse with the police and the Commercial Affairs Department, which investigates white-collar crimes.