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Verde Nabbed After FBI Sting Orchid Bay Developer Claims Extortion

Verde Nabbed After FBI Sting Orchid Bay Developer Claims Extortion
September 27
11:18 2019

Friday, September 27th. 2019 –

The details of the Reynaldo Verde case, being investigated by the US F.B.I. on charges of extortion and obstruction to commerce, became public this week describing how the Deputy Director of General Services in the Belize Tax Services Department used his official capacity to strong-arm American developer Chris Williams, demanding a portion of up to $8 Million at one point from him allegedly causing development of his Orchid Bay property to cease.

Linked News Article

A court filing from the US District Court of Southern Florida, dated September 6 details the charges and evidence compiled against Verde with help from two special agents assigned to Williams’ complaint. Verde’s charge is ‘interference with commerce by means of extortion and attempted extortion.’

The filing explains that Verde, who was Assistant Commissioner of the GST Department from October 2016, contacted Williams, who took over the Orchid Bay project in 2016 and had hired a construction firm based in southern Florida, requesting a clandestine meeting over alleged delinquent tax obligations. Williams met with Verde in January 2017 and secretly recorded the conversation, in which Verde insisted Williams owed BZ $1 million in unpaid taxes.

Williams, however, who had retained a local accountant and attorney to navigate its financial obligations, maintained that his tax balance was a much lower figure in the range of $300,000. Williams then made a complaint to the FBI, spawning the investigation which led to his eventual arrest in Washington several weeks ago on his return from a working trip to Brussels.

The documents detail how Verde allegedly harassed Williams, planning and backing out from several meetings with Williams in locations in the US and Mexico because he was afraid to meet outside of Belize. With each demand the total increased until Verde inflated the amount of Orchid Bay’s tax liability to BZ $8 Million. Finally Verde agreed to meet with Williams at Orchid Bay in August after Williams had left Belize for months fearing he would be detained as Verde allegedly threatened.

The Orchid Bay meeting, however, was a sting operation set up by the FBI and two special agents were present, eating lunch at a nearby table, as Verde met with Williams. Williams was also equipped with a recording device and the conversation forms part of the FBI’s evidence against Verde. After a tense discussion about settling Orchid Bay’s problems, Verde left with $2,000 from Williams.

Orchid Bay, of course, as we have previously reported has itself seen some controversy in past months as several unhappy customers have made allegations against Williams’ Legacy Global Development of unfulfilled promises and unethical practices. Williams, however, has maintained that while the development has been subject to difficulties his company has fulfilled all its obligations to customers to the best of its abilities. The filing also notes that because Williams cannot show his GST taxes are paid and current “he has not been able to obtain loans to further development of the resort.”

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