Another delay in Milanes case irks former investors

Former investors with Savings Unlimited and its owner Luis Milanes Tamayo are more than unhappy because a preliminary hearing has been suspended for a third time.

That happened Monday when the hearing, planned for the entire month of March, was cut short after just a few hours.

This is the case that pits some 500 investors, mostly North Americans, against the casino owner who was a fugitive for six years. The case was postponed until May, in part at the request of a lawyer for some of the investors, Ewald Acuña, who objected to the way investors were listed in two groups.

Milanes is believed to have sought a delay, too, because he is in the process of changing lawyers.

Some of the investors had come long distances to be present at the hearing. The main purpose of the court session was to see if investors and Milanes could negotiate a deal that would result in a
payout. Milanes has offered property that an appraiser said is worth about $10.5 million. However, the property would have to be sold. Among the properties is the Hotel Europa downtown.

Some investors were seen expressing their displeasure to judicial officials Wednesday. Many believe that Milanes is receiving special handling from the judicial system. Part of their evidence is that he served a single day in jail when he returned after trying to use a false passport in El Salvador.
Milanes also was allowed to show up at the hearing Tuesday with a bodyguard, and he was housed in a separate courtroom.

Even in his prolonged absence Milanes continued to operate prosperous casinos in the Central Valley. He also has other lucrative business interests. He is a Cuban-American.

When he shut down Saving Unlimited in November 2002, investors lost an estimated $200 million. Milanes has blamed an associate who is now in Europe for keeping the money.

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