When Antonio contacted me to tell his story, I honestly did not foresee how intrigued I would be or how involved internationally the story would be. But I am glad it happened that way. I have gotten to know Antonio a bit of over the little time we have known each other. I think it’s time to tell his story.
Antonio Velardo was born in Naples, Italy in 1977. At the age of 19, he went to London & then to Florida. In Daytona Beach, he studied to be a pilot and achieved a FAA Multi-Engine Commercial license at the age of 21. He travelled extensively after that and converted his pilot’s license from the US to a European one.
Antonio changed went to college in the UK in 2002. He earned a Bachelors’s Degree in English with Honors at Loughborough University. This is a very prestigious university in the UK. After he graduated, he moved to Spain where he got a job with a high end real estate agency. Within this company, he excelled as one of the top salesman. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a recently attained knowledge of real estate, he opened his own business. He sold and developed vacation or holiday homes in Southern Italy. Antonio then moved to Ireland where he met Harry Fitzsimmons, a Belfast gas station owner who he had sold property to in the past. He and Harry formed a business VFI (Velardo Fitzsimmons Investment) Overseas Property.
In 2007, VFI was hugely successful. Within the first year, they sold more than 450 units. By the age 29, from a modest upbringing, Antonio was a multimillionaire. This is literally the American dream fulfilled. All of us that have been taught hard work pays off see the success Antonio attained as the gold standard. Who wouldn’t want to be in his shoes?
In 2009, VFI won several industry awards. There were offices in Dublin, Stockholm, London, Moscow and the Ukraine. With the political and social unrest in his native Italy, Antonio took his business to Tunisia and began investing in distressed properties internationally. Eventually ending up in Miami in 2010, where he starts several different businesses.
Now cut to the dawn raid of VFI holdings in March, 2013. Property seized, people arrested without real cause, lives destroyed. For what? The ambition of a prosecutor who jails people first and investigates later? Apparently that is the standard in Italy. Didn’t we just go through years with Amanda Knox aka Foxy Knoxy? Trumped up charges and irresponsible prosecution that inevitably is thrown out. At what cost? Why is no one concerned?