QCOSTARICA – Justice was served up this morning in a San Jose criminal court for the hundreds of investors of the high yield investment company operated by Luis Angel Milanés Tamayo, known as “The Cuban”, sentenced to 15 years in prison for fraud.
It’s been 13 years since the sudden closing of the “investment” company Savings Unlimited, closing its doors to alleged thousands of investors on November 25, 2002. The now 64 year-old Milanés skipped town with some US$46 million dollars of investor money, according to the some 500 complaints filed against him.
In the Thursday morning ruling, the Tribunal Penal de San José also sentenced Michael González, a Milanés’ employee and “right hand man”, to six years in prison on the same charge.
Criminal court Judge Carlos Chávez read only part of the court’s verdict this morning, the full sentencing is expected on January 22, 2016.
In the meantime, Milanés had been ordered to preventive detention (jail) for up to eight months, the appeal period. Gonzalez was ordered to house arrest (no jail) and to surrender his passport.
Hugo Navas, Milanes’ lawyer said they will now wait for the written judgement before preparing the appeal. “We will appeal the ruling. We do not agree with the outcome,” said Navas.
The defense had argued and rejected by the court, that the statue of limitations had passed.
The public prosecutor (Fiscalia) had asked for a 18 years imprisonment on three counts of fraud and an additional two years for the crime of financial intermediation.
Following the 2002 closure of Savings Unlimited, Milanés was on the run for six years, arrested on June 19, 2008, at the San Salvador airport, travelling under a false passport.
In the years following, Milanés reached an agreement with the plaintiffs, pledging to being paying them with the sale of properties with an estimate valued of US$12 million dollars, plus promising to hand over US$1.8 million dollars in cash. In September 2014, Milanés had failed to honour his commitment and was ordered to trial.
Last July, the San José criminal court suspended the trial following Milanés’ attorney claiming his client had health issues.
The Savings Unlimited closing was on the heels of another high yield investment scheme, “The Brothers”, both offering investors up to 3% and 4% monthly on their capital.
Investors included a mix of Americans, Canadians, Europeans, other foreigners and Costa Ricans.