Goicoechea’s Court of Appeal reversed a 15-year sentence issued last December against the Cuban-American businessman Luis Angel Milanés Tamayo, who was accused of swindling millions against foreign investors.
According to the judges, the issue had already been taken care of in a 2012 trial, when Milanés got a 3-year sentence.
The new ruling also confirmed that Milanés must pay his debt with 432 investors who went to the court seeking justice. Their lawyer, Ewald Acuña Blanco, said he would file an appeal before the Third Chamber.
On the other hand, one of Milanés’ lawyers, Hugo Navas Vargas, deemed the acquittal as
a logical decision… because it would be senseless to judge a person for the same crime twice.
Luis Ángel Milanés arrived in Costa Rica in 1998 and founded Savings Unlimited, a firm that paid investors a monthly interest rate of 3.50% on the amount saved, when banks only gave 0.5%
In 2002, Milanés disappeared with $200 million from 2,600 investors, two days before Unlimited Savings’ luxurious office was dismantled. In 2008, the fugitive was captured by the International Police in El Salvador and Costa Rica demanded extradition.
However, time went by, investors got divided and opted for arrangements to recover their money. In 2012 Milanés managed to get the Criminal Court of San José to sentence him to three years in prison with the benefit of parole for five years, on charges of fraud and illegal financial intermediation.
But the Ministry of Justice and 432 investors did not endorse that ruling and other criminal proceedings followed in 2015, with a 15-year sentence, of which he was acquitted because his crimes had already been analyzed and sanctioned in 2012.
As for the possible recovery of the investments, Ewald Acuña was pessimistic and said that Milanés’ only assets are the building of the former Europa hotel, and some lands in Santa Ana, which, in his opinion, could only cover about 18% of the total debt.