Caveat Emptor

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Looking to cut a business deal with the Castro brothers, or with any other ad hoc regimes?

Well -- "buyer beware" -- as these unfortunate British investors in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus learned.

According to yesterday's U.K. Times Online:

Thousands of Britons with holiday and retirement homes in northern Cyprus face eviction after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision that a British couple must surrender disputed land.

David and Linda Orams spent their life savings on a dream villa and pool. They have spent six years fighting the legal battle but must now give back the property to the original owner, Meletios Apostolides, a displaced Greek Cypriot.

About 5,000 Britons live on land in northern Cyprus once owned by displaced Greek Cypriots who fled to the south when Turkey invaded in 1974. The Court of Appeal ruling could open the floodgates to thousands of similar compensation claims.

Some 167,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to leave their homes between 1974-5. Many believe that thousands of Britons who bought land were aware that it belonged to Greek Cypriots but turned a blind eye to secure a cheap deal.

Legal problems with Northern Cyprus property

Britons living in northern Cyprus insist that they bought property in good faith. They say they were assured by local estate agents that it was safe to buy on exchanged land because the Greek Cypriots had been recompensed with land in the south.

This last line should also make investors in "property claim" funds weary -- you know, those looking to cut "debt-for-equity deals" with the Castro regime.