French couple
Fabianne Fernande and Marc Bauer, with their new lawyer (left), pose in front of the French Embassy in San Jose on Monday

(QCOSTARICA) The dream of a French couple living in Costa Rica to own a hotel was cut short by an unscrupulous lawyer, who allegedly made off with the money earmarked for their purchase of a hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Fabianne Fernande and Marc Bauer, who said their biggest mistake was falling head over heels with the country.

The couple is now seeking the support of their country’s Embassy to recover from the lawyer, identified by his last name Nassan Guier, who they had chose from a list of lawyers recommended by the Embassy.

“Our interest was buying the property to have an investment in this country, to protect nature in our area and provide some job opportunities to locals who live off tourism, but everything went upside down. My husband invested our family capital in this project, we just want our money back,” said Fernande front of the French embassy on Monday.

The story of the couple dates back to 2009 when they entered into a five year rental contract for the hotel. Two years later they saw the opportunity to become owners when the property was put up for auction. Their lawyer advised them not to appear at the auction and leave the process in his hands.

The couple was prepared to go as high as US$550.000 dollars, however, they were told by their lawyer they only needed US$364,825. The money was transferred to the lawyer to complete the sale.

But, on the day of the auction the owners filed for an annulment of the process, claiming that all the back payments had been made.  The Bauer’s lawyer was not aware of the circumstances at that time.

In total, the Bauers had transferred to the lawyer US$395,000 to cover the purchase price and legal fees.

Confronting the lawyer, they were able to recover a little more than US$100,000 dollars.

Now, with a new lawyer and better counsel on the situation, the couple expect to recover their savings of years of work and effort.

On Monday, at the French Embassy in San José, Marc Bauer delivered a copy of their court claim against Nassar Guier to prevent others from becoming victim.

The couple says that if the Costa Rica legal system responds well (they are able to recover thier money), it will contribute to a positive image for the country and to future investors who see Costa Rica an opportunity for economic growth.

Corrected: In one instance we referred to the lawyer as Bauer instead of Guier. Thanks to the quick catch by our our readers.

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