Expat investors wonder what Milanes will do next

Expats and others who believe they have been defrauded by Luis Milanes Tamayo have been trying to get the Cuban-American to vacate the Europa Hotel in downtown San José.

The hotel was part of the real estate Milanes put up as a partial settlement in his fraud case. He has been living there and also had one of his casinos on the first floor.

A trust that is involved in the complex arrangement has been pushing for eviction. Still, there was a surprise Monday when Milanes abruptly closed the casino in the Hotel Europa and also a separate Europa Casino in the Hotel Radisson in northern San José.

Some expats believe that Milanes already has turned two other casinos over to Venezuelan investors and may not be around for a criminal trial scheduled for next year.

The investor’s trust was getting about $13,000 a month rent for the Hotel Europa casino, but their goal is to sell the property. Milanes has a reputation of interpreting his leases in his favor, and one investor said that the casino owner stopped paying the rental charge about three months ago when he was faced with a demand to vacate.

The hotel and other properties were put up by Milanes in an effort to settle the criminal claims.

He is the former owner of Savings Unlimited, a high-interest operation that paid clients up to 3 percent a month. Milanes closed down the operation in the Edificio Colon 12 years ago this month and vanished.

Some of the former employees of the casino were downtown Tuesday posting signs demanding the mandatory Christmas bonus and whatever pay and benefits they have earned. Police were there for crowd control. Some employees complained to reporters 12 years ago that they had been stiffed.

Milanes has a Teflon reputation. When he returned to Costa Rica in June 2008. It appeared then that he had made some kind of deal because he spent just a night in jail. Some expats point out that Milanes is surrounded by bodyguards who carry machine pistols that may not be legal in Costa Rica.  In addition, the lucrative casinos operated by Milanes never were part of the criminal court case. And investors have been on a judicial roller coaster as Milanes made sophisticated use of the courts.

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