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Cop busted

(AP) -- A former Los Angeles police officer has been arrested on charges of bilking at least $3 million from several people, including fellow officers, who invested in a real estate scheme.

The Los Angeles Times reported it is the second time 41-year-old Darcey Greenfield has faced allegations that she misled investors. Last year, prosecutors in San Bernardino County brought similar charges.

Greenfield was arrested Wednesday and charged with theft and fraud by the California attorney general's office.

Prosecutors say Greenfield persuaded an unspecified number of people to put their life savings in investment securities.

Greenfield allegedly told the victims that the money would be used to help homeowners in foreclosure and promised they would get a high rate of return. Prosecutors said the victims received nothing.
Mortgage fraud sentence

(AP) -- Three men have been sentenced to federal prison for a $2.4 million mortgage fraud scheme targeting California central coast lenders.

Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles say the defendants conspired to defraud lenders by preparing loan packages containing false information about borrower employment and assets.

The victims included Homecoming Financial, Freddie Mac, Bank of America and Carrington Mortgage Company.

A judge on Monday sentenced 36-year-old Brian Armet, of Santa Margarita, to a year and a day in prison; 37-year-old Rigoberto Hernandez, of Santa Maria, to eight months; and 42-year-old Julio Tamayo, of Santa Maria, to six months.

The defendants were ordered to pay $2.4 million in restitution to the four lenders.
Trump in Rio

(AP) -- Rio de Janeiro is getting its own Trump Towers.

A consortium headed by the Trump Organization said construction on the first two of five planned towers will begin in the second half of next year.

The 38-floor towers will go up in Rio's dilapidated port zone, which is currently undergoing a massive facelift as part of a bid to turn it into a business hub.

The two first towers are expected to be finished ahead of the 2016 Olympic games, which Rio is hosting.

The timetable for construction of the other three towers will depend on the market, officials behind on the project said Tuesday.

The consortium also includes Brazilian construction company Even. It did not reveal the size of the investment.
Yellowstone resurrected

(AP) -- Montana's bid to force ultra-luxury resort founder Tim Blixseth into bankruptcy and make him cough up $57 million in alleged back taxes has been resurrected by an appeals court ruling in the case.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a lower court ruling Monday and said Nevada is the proper venue.

Blixseth, a resident of Washington, is believed to have most of his assets in a Nevada-based trust.

The ruling comes on the heels of a Dec. 5 order that Blixseth pay $41 million to creditors from the Yellowstone Club, the private ski resort he founded near Big Sky.

Blixseth diverted most of a $375 million loan to the club for his personal use before it went bankrupt in 2008.
BofA Merrill Lynch sued

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp.'s (NYSE: BAC) Merrill Lynch unit was sued by two trusts that hold and administer mortgages on behalf of investors who own more than $1 billion of securities collateralized by the loans.

Merrill bought more than 6,000 mortgages with an original principal balance of more than $1.1 billion from a third-party loan originator, ResMAE Mortgage Corp., in 2006 and turned them into tradeable securities that were sold to investors, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

ResMAE filed for bankruptcy in February 2007 and the trusts pursued claims against ResMAE in bankruptcy through LaSalle Bank, demanding that it buy back loans where borrowers had missed their first or second payments or provide other compensation, according to the complaint.

LaSalle in July 2008 settled those claims on behalf of five Merrill-sponsored trusts, including the two plaintiffs in Tuesday's suit.

The case is Merrill Lynch Mortgage Investors Trust, Series 2006-RM4 v. Merrill Lynch Mortgage Lending Inc., 654403/2012, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).
Dismissal sought

(Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and other banks asked a New York state judge to dismiss a $1.8 billion lawsuit brought by residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) investors.

The investors, which included Phoenix Light SF Ltd., sued New York-based JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and the other lenders in New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan in May, accusing them of making misrepresentations about the loans backing the securities.

The defendants in documents filed on Dec. 14 asked Justice Charles E. Ramos to dismiss the suit, saying the investors failed to show they're entitled to the requested relief and that their claims are barred by a three-year statute of limitations under German law.

The defendants also say the investors have failed to identify “any actionable misrepresentation” that they relied upon.

Phoenix is a limited liability company based in Dublin that inherited legal claims from six separate legal entities “that collapsed or nearly collapsed,” according to the complaint.

The case is Phoenix Light SF Ltd. v. JPMorgan Securities LLC, 651755-2012, New York state Supreme Court (Manhattan).
BlackRock in UK

(Bloomberg) -- BlackRock Inc., the world's largest money manager, agreed to buy U.K. property funds run by Deutsche Bank AG’s (NYSE: DB) RREEF real estate affiliate.

BlackRock's U.K. Property Fund will add 27 real estate investments valued at more than 335 million pounds ($543 million) in the deal, bringing assets under management to more than 2.4 billion pounds, the New York-based firm said Tuesday.

RREEF's U.K. retail, office and industrial property funds are included in the acquisition. The transaction’s terms weren’t disclosed.

The deal “increases and further diversifies the fund's client base by an additional 64 investors, giving them access to a longstanding U.K. real estate platform,” BlackRock said.

BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) can improve the value of some of the assets formerly managed by RREEF and this will be “accretive to the future performance” of the fund, the firm said. BlackRock's U.K. fund has returned 8.8 percent a year for the last 20 years and its investments include doctors’ offices, marinas and warehouses.
Carlos Slim in Spain

(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Carlos Slim spent 428.2 million euros ($566 million) to acquire Spanish real estate owned by business partner CaixaBank.

Slim's holding company, Inmobiliaria Carso SA, bought 439 properties, which house CaixaBank’s branches, the Barcelona-based financial-services company said Tuesday.

The bank will lease the spaces from Slim, it said.

The world's richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is continuing to invest in European assets after a regional credit crisis drove down prices.

Slim's holding company had 0.2 percent of CaixaBank's shares as of August 2011, when it made its most recent disclosure.

CaixaBank continues to hold a 20 percent stake in Slim's Mexican financial services company, Grupo Financiero Inbursa SAB.

The Spanish company made the investment in 2008.

CaixaBank expects to record a pretax gain of 200 million euros from the real estate transaction, it said.
Renewable Germany

(AP) -- German utilities say this year's share of renewable energies in the country's electricity production is forecast to rise some 15 percent on the year, largely on the back of a continuing solar power boom.

Utilities' industry association BDEW said Tuesday the share of wind, solar and biomass power is expected to rise from 20 percent in 2011 to 23 percent this year.

Strong growth in new solar power installations -- helped by subsidies -- is expected to lead to a solar output surge of 47 percent to 28.5 billion kilowatt hours in 2011.

Germany decided last year to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and replace it with renewable energies. They're expected to produce 40 percent of the country's energy by then, and 80 percent by 2050.
Spanish property

(AP) -- Spain's ailing property market showed little sign of recovery Friday, with the latest figures showing house prices were down some 15 percent in the third quarter.

The collapse in the country's real estate market in 2008 sparked Spain's financial crisis as banks and homeowners were trapped with toxic loans and property they could not sell on.

Public debt levels then rose to worrying levels as the government rushed to prop up the ailing lenders.

The Housing Price Index released Friday detailed how Spanish house prices continue to tumble due to a squeeze on credit, stalled demand and massive oversupply.

The index showed prices fell by an average of 14.4 percent year-on-year in the second quarter and 15.2 percent in the third.

The largest regional drop -- 17.9 percent -- was in central Madrid.

Spain is now battling to emerge from its second recession in three years, with unemployment soaring to over 25 percent.
Singapore fund

(Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Group Ltd. plans to shut its Singapore-listed infrastructure fund after selling assets including a port and highway in China because it doesn't expect its share price to reflect the value of its holdings.

Macquarie International Infrastructure Fund will distribute excess cash as a special dividend and divest three assets following a review by its adviser CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. The fund has about S$60 million

Australia's biggest investment bank decided to shut the fund, which started in 2005, after it couldn’t find good assets in Asia or means to boost its share price, Heng said.
German home buyers

(Bloomberg) -- Private-equity firms, pension funds, residential landlords and other large investors bought the most German homes since 2007 this year and purchases will decline in the next 12 months as less property comes up for sale, according to a forecast by Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. (NYSE: JLL).

Large investors will probably buy 8 billion euros ($10.5 billion) of German homes in 2013, compared with 10.8 billion euros in 2012, the Chicago-based broker said Tuesday.

“This year was characterized by a few large deals that made up almost 5 billion euros of the total,” Helge Scheunemann, Jones Lang's head of German research, said Tuesday.

Investment funds are buying groups of German homes because they are looking for a safe investment as interest rates hover near record lows amid Europe's sovereign debt crisis.

Deals were fueled by the sale of almost 100,000 apartments by companies that needed to pay debts from last decade's buyout boom.

Large deals this year include the auction of 21,000 apartments by Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg in April and a Barclays Plc (NYSE: BCS) unit's sale of 23,500 apartments in July.

Sales next year will include Bayerische Landesbank's 32,000 apartments held by its GBW unit, and 38,000 belonging to Gagfah SA, Scheunemann said.

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