During 1999 and 2000, Savings Unlimited (also known as the “Cuban”) worked out of their luxurious offices in the Centro Colon building and received some US$46 million dollars at impossibly high interest from 2,600 investors. Then, abruptly, the office closed and investment “counselor” Luis Milanés Tamayo , now 62, disappeared.
It was an old story for Costa Rica where through the decades, starting with Latin American Bank in the 1970s, investors have lost millions of dollars to Ponzi schemes, fraud and dubious investments. The difference: Milanes is still free and stringing along the courts with empty promises to pay investors back.
The file has passed through the hands of six criminal judges, criminal magistrate Edgar Castrillo told La Nacion. But Judge Castrillo says the case is complicate by the number of victims to be paid, the demands of their lawyers, the time it has dragged on and the negotiations.
For example, Milanes (who was finally captured June 19, 2008, trying to fly out of El Salvador with a phony passport) turned over the Hotel Europa in downtown San Jose to a trust. It is valued at US$6.1 million but there have been no buyers. He rents a room there to live.
After police turned him over to the court, he offered to pay $14 million to his victims. The prosecutor did not ask for preventive prison because of the promise by Milanes to sign in with police every two weeks, to not leave the country or talk to the plaintiffs, and to post bond with various properties.
Three years after his capture, on May 23, 2011, he promised to pay $1.8 million in cash plus turning over properties valued at $12 million to a trust. So far, only three of the nine properties have been sold for just $353,500.
Tired of waiting for Milanes to keep his word, Judge Dayanna Segura gave him six months to produce the promised cash at $100,000 per month with $578,000 to have been paid by Nov,. 23, 2012. Some of his victims have complained that they have received nothing from Milanes so a hearing is invoked for October, this year, to see if he has kept his word.
Milanez offered a guarantee of payment of the $578,000 of an apartment on La Sabana valued at $70,000. But they have not been paid.
Originally 580 investors demanded their money back and one lawyer managed to get around 500 to accept a settlement deal. The other 80 were not included. They, naturally, want to be paid. Milanes, with a three year sentence hanging over his head for fraud, remains free.
With notes from iNews.co.cr