Trust committee sets up Milanes investor Web site

The committee handling assets handed over by Luis Milanes now has a Web site.

Luis Milanes is the Cuban-American casino owner who used to operate Savings Unlimited, a high interest operation that folded in November 2002.

Milanes offered 11 properties and a $100,000 monthly stipend for 18 months in exchange for investors to drop their charges. Most but not all did.

The Web site contains a blog of informational postings. The most recent said that the five-member committee that is overseeing the conciliation agreement with Milanes is serving without pay or an expense account.

They are Ewal Acuña Blanco, a lawyer representing hundreds of investors; Leonardo Gómez, another lawyer; Gina Renault and Michel Messier, two investors, and a man identified as Mario Verardo. Gómez is identified as the spokesman for the group.

The properties and the money are in the hands of Global Trust Firm S.A., a company registered to handle these types of transactions that are called a fideicomiso in Spanish. The contract is basically a trust agreement. The company is charged with accepting the 11 properties from Milanes, maintaining them and then selling them. The proceeds, less expenses, will be divided among the investors who accepted the agreement. The amount may range from 5 to 15 percent of their investment with Milanes, No one knows for sure because the amount depends on the sales prices of the properties.

Those investors who have not accepted the conciliation agreement are betting that the prosecutors will win a criminal case against Milanes so they can be compensated at the end of the trial. In Costa Rica, victims can maintain a civil action alongside a criminal process.

The largest property handed over by Milanes is the Hotel Europa, where he lives in the penthouse. Another tenant is one of Milanes’ many casinos. The Europa is downtown and adjacent to an office building that also is part of the deal. The trust committee suffered an early setback when members learned that many of the Milanes properties had liens attached to them. They are trying to clear the liens now. There did not seem to be any mention on the Web site of this process, although there is a link to other documents.

Global Trust is trying to use the Web site to assemble the names of investors, living or dead, who might receive payment from the trust. There is a form in English, although those living outside the country must submit the signed and notarized form to the relevant Costa Rican consulate and then to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto for authentication. This is the international process known as apostille.

Milanes fled the country in November 2002 but continued to own casinos here. He returned in June 2009, served a day in jail and then returned to civilian life to await the judicial processes.

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