Days and hours go by, the rescue efforts of victims continue slowly, and theories grow about what could have happened so that 55 apartments of the Champlain Towers complex collapsed on Thursday, in that fatal moment. But there are also other news that point to a possible plot of illicit crimes: according to a report by The Washington Post, the builders of the collapsed building in Miami long ago accused of paying bribes to local officials to obtain permits to build in the area.
The Post noted that among the builders and designers of the Surfside complex Nathan Reiber was, a Canadian of Polish descent who died in 2014 of cancer.
According to the newspaper of the American capital, the construction company’s rivals claimed that the partners behind the uprising of the Champlain Towers they were receiving preferential treatment when it came to approving the permitting system when it was being built, in 1981.
The information, collected by other American and international media, indicates that the builders who were very strong at that time in Surfside, had contributed to the campaigns of at least two members of the council of that county.
What was left of the tower next door. AFP photo
All principals believed to have been involved in the design and construction of the building they have already passed away. The developers behind the project included Reiber, who was indicted in the 1970s for tax evasion in Canada, and even cited with an arrest warrant when he was in Florida, the Hamilton Spectator in Ontario reported.
Later, in 1981, Reiber, who was a lawyer, was again accused of tax evasion in the neighboring country and cited for professional misconduct by the Law Society of Upper Canada, according to the Post. He was finally able to solve the case by returning to Canada and paying a fine of $ 60,000.
Raiber and his partners developing buildings in Canada were also charged with steal tens of thousands of dollars coin-operated washing machines at the complexes and also having issued $ 120,000 in checks for fraudulent construction.
In Florida, Reiber and its partners were unable to begin construction of the complex due to a 1979 debt with the county for faulty sewers, says the Post. The suspicion of kickbacks arises because Reiber agreed to pay half of the $ 400,000 debt for the property’s sewer repairs and was then given the green light by the county. Suspicions grew because the builders had contributed to the campaigns of at least two members of the city council.
This provoked the ire of rival builders, whose projects remained hampered by similar debts and who denounced special treatment for Reiber. When accused of buying favors from the authorities, the Champlain owners asked officials to return the builder’s contributions.
Similarly, the Polish-Canadian always seems have had the approval of the county. In fact, he was awarded the key to the city after the Champlain Towers complex was completed in 1986.
This report comes days after it was revealed that in 2018 the engineer Frank Morabito presented a report to the city in which he warned of a danger “Structural damage”, originating from the initial construction: the deck of the swimming pool did not drain well and was not properly waterproofed and the accumulated water leaked on the concrete slabs into the garage and that corroded the columns. It was not known whether county authorities required the complex’s owners to fix those defects.
One of the companies, Brieterman, Jurado and Associates, was mentioned in the reports as one of those in charge of the structural and electrical issues in the construction of the Champlain. Breiterman passed away. Asked by the Post, Jurado said that he had not done anything to do with waterproofing or inspections. “To be honest, I don’t remember”, said Jurado, 92. “I don’t even remember that building in Surfside.”
From President Joe Biden and Florida Governor Ron de Santis to local officials, they all promise to investigate what happened. For this, a team of expert structural engineers arrived from all over the country to examine the rubble and Obtain evidence for further investigation. But engineers specialized in structures consulted by Clarín agreed that it is a complex task that can take years.
Among the disappeared are several citizens of Latin American countries. One of them is Chilean lawyer Claudio Bonnefoy, a relative of former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. His daughter, Pascale Bonnefoy, who traveled to Miami to closely follow the rescue work, highlighted the “non-stop” work of the rescuers, but asked to know what happened. “Solidarity we have received a lot, and it has been very nice, but I think that what you have to do is investigate the causes”He told CNN.