Milanes investors will be offered a deal in March hearing

Former investors with Savings Unlimited have been allocated the month of March for a hearing in court here in an effort to reach a deal with Luis Milanes, who operated the high interest scheme.

The case is a pariah for the judiciary. Milanes fled the country in November 2002 after destroying any evidence that could have been found in his Edificio Colón offices.

Most of the investors are foreigners, and the prosecutors that have been involved in the case have changed frequently. Milanes returned to Costa Rica in June 2009, and investors continue to be unhappy that he served just a day in jail before he posted property to make bail.

Since then he has been in nightly attendance at his casinos, further irking investors.

Now Milanes has come up with a repayment plan that involved turning over the buildings that he has posted for bail to Banco de Costa Rica. The bank would be empowered to sell the properties and refund the money to investors after reasonable fees and fees to the lawyers.

The properties are estimated to be worth about $10 million,
so the return to investors would be about five cents on a dollar, based on the $200 million that was lost when Milanes closed up his business.

Prosecutors also have learned that a former associate, Costa Rican lawyer José Adolfo Somarribas Arias, has been released from prison in Europe where he was fighting extradition. Local officials were told that the man is seeking refugee status to avoid returning to Costa Rica where he could face charges.

Milanes said that Somarribas has the bulk of the money.

Judicial officials are anxious that the investors make a settlement with Milanes to avoid a trial, which may be several years in the future. Under Costa Rica law, victims can forgive someone who commits a crime and the case will be shelved.

Also there is only a percentage of victims who are actively involved in the case. Many have simply written off their losses. Others do not speak Spanish, live in the United States or elsewhere and have no idea on how to press their case.

Like other high-interest operations at the time, Milanes offered returns of some 3 to 4 percent a month. He said he was investing in his casinos.

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