Florida Rep. Fabián Basabe is gearing up for battle in a family dispute in which his cousin has accused him of botching an investment deal involving classic 1990s-era Land Rovers.
Basabe, who represents Miami Beach in the Florida House of Representatives, claims the cousin, Paolo Aliatis, bears the blame for the less-than-stellar outcome of the side-hustle, which aimed to import used Land Rovers from across the Atlantic and resell them in the U.S. at a profit.
"These cockroaches will continue to creep through the cracks," Basabe tells New Times.
Basabe says Aliatis described the cars "as if they were a Monet, which is ironic as they are good from afar but far from good in any estimation."
"My personal Land Rover alone cost more than his entire rusted investment package, and was purchased stateside and paid in full," Basabe asserts.
In a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County court, Aliatis says he made a deal in December 2020 with the former reality television star and current politician to purchase five Land Rover Defenders in the United Kingdom and sell them in the United States.
Aliatis contends they agreed he would acquire and ship the vehicles to the US, where Basabe would resell them for at least $25,000 apiece and the cousins would split the profits.
The lawsuit claims Basabe didn't follow through.
The complaint alleges that Basabe kept one car for personal use, disassembled another for parts, shipped two more to California, and removed the doors and cabin top of the fifth vehicle, leaving it exposed to Miami sun and rain.
After Aliatis learned Basabe hadn't sold any of the Land Rovers, the lawsuit says, the parties agreed that Aliatis would take possession of three of the cars, which he later sold for $22,000, $16,000, and $8,000. The complaint claims Basabe refused to "assume his share of the losses" and said he intended to keep the California vehicles to cover his investment.
Basabe claims the cars he received were "really junk" that needed major repairs.
"When you and my dad talked about the car situation, I thought I was getting some really cool cars that my really cool friends would wanna just buy...," reads a WhatsApp message Basabe sent in November 2021.
As communication broke down between the parties, Basabe told the Aliatis camp that the cars were in poor condition from being exposed to the elements when they were initially shipped to the U.S. via a transport vessel.
Aliatis, who lives in the UK, describes himself as a self-made entrepreneur and private investor. His website boasts he is a founder and chief executive officer of many companies that specialize in buyouts, venture capital, and real investments, namely co-living and property technology.
Aliatis previously dealt with legal conflict related to his "flat-sharing" business in London.
Basabe has been weathering his own controversy in recent weeks as the socialite turned politician faced calls to resign from constituents who said he broke campaign promises by voting in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis' "Stop Woke" agenda.