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Deputy Tax Director Awaits Trial in US Extortion Case

Deputy Tax Director Awaits Trial in US Extortion Case
September 15
10:25 2019

Reynaldo Verde, the Deputy Director of General Services of the Belize Tax Services Department was detained in the United States over the weekend and has been taken to Florida to face charges of extortion and attempted extortion. His family has reportedly called on the government to get involved but GOB has distanced itself from the case, even suggesting his employment status would be subject to review by the Public Services Commission (PSC).

GOB confirmed that Verde was detained in the United States last Saturday, September 7th, in Washington D.C., upon his return from an official visit to Brussels, Belgium. The release said Verde was charged and pleaded not guilty. GOB, however, said it had no details as to the nature of the charge or whether it is related to his employment with the government of Belize.

It added that his employment status would be put before the PSC for consideration in accordance with the rules and regulations of the Public Service. Reports suggest that the charge Verde was detained for may be in connection with a real estate development in northern Belize and an unhappy US customer.

Once processed in Florida, the details of Verde’s case will be made available for public record. The Reporter understands that his family has flown to Florida to give their support.

Verde’s detention into federal US custody doesn’t bode well for a jurisdiction which has been plagued with reports and blacklists highlighting Belize for everything from corruption to fraud and money laundering. Verde has also previously been charged twice in Belize on firearm offenses and was remanded to prison once.

Financial Secretary Joseph Waight confirmed to the media that Verde was charged with violating a US criminal code related to interference of commerce.

The Reporter understands from sources that Verde is being charged under the Hobbs Act, a US federal law which provides stiff penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment.

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