“Mafia practices of a very intimidating nature.” The Ghent court is not kind to SR, a 47-year-old Dutch project developer who has harassed and threatened his Ghent competitor Ignace De Paepe (62) and two of his employees for years. The background to this is a business dispute surrounding the real estate project at Vrijdagmarkt and Langemunt. The judge sentenced the businessman to 14 months’ suspended prison sentence.
Self-made man Ignace De Paepe has already realized many prestigious projects in Ghent with his real estate group MG Real Estate. He built the KBC tower on the Kortrijksesteenweg, brought Albert Heyn to the former postal building on the Korenmarkt and lured Primark to the Langemunt in 2014.
The retail chain established itself in a large-scale residential-retail project between Vrijdagmarkt, Langemunt and Onderstraat. De Paepe had taken it over from the real estate group around the Dutchman SR, after it had invested too wildly in the project. A business conflict arose between De Paepe and SR regarding the settlement of that takeover. The latter believed that he was still owed 13 million euros and that the financial advisor of MG Real Estate had cunningly manipulated the figures in order to have to pay much less.
Various lawsuits were conducted regarding that business dispute, but these were not sufficient for SR, who was not proven right anywhere, apparently not. For example, he single-handedly stopped his opponent to make it clear to him “that I will get your money, because I always get my money everywhere”.
Explosion at front door
Things went from bad to worse. After an incident in Monaco, in May 2019, two men in a car with false number plates stopped in front of the business premises of MG Real Estate in Nevele to spray the words on the entrance gate with a spray can Final notice (‘Last chance’). After a threat to “send Albanians against him and his children”, the Ghent project developer’s family even had to be permanently guarded.
The financial advisor and another close employee of Ignace De Paepe were also threatened. A flower pot was detonated at the front door of one of them at night, an explosion that also damaged the roof. “Their peace and that of their families was disturbed to a very serious extent,” said the judgment of the Ghent court of first instance.
Although SR denies all allegations, it is indisputable to the judge that he was the client behind all the facts. He therefore sentenced the Dutch real estate developer to a prison term of 14 months. Because he has no criminal record, apart from a conviction for driving without a license and insurance, SR was given the favor of a deferral.