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Former Deputy Director of the Belize Tax Services, Reynaldo Verde, takes plea deal in US extortion case

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Posted: Monday, September 13, 2021. 11:16 am CST.

By BBN Staff: Breaking Belize News has confirmed that Reynaldo Verde, the former Deputy Director of the Belize Tax Services who was arrested in the United States in 2019 on charges of extortion has taken a plea deal.

Verde pleaded guilty to count two on his indictment which is ‘attempted interference with commerce by extortion’ in the US District Court of Southern Florida. According to Verde’s plea deal, the court will determine his sentencing after considering the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Policy Statements, but the court is not expressly bound to those guidelines and can ultimately give a lesser or greater sentence based on its considerations.

The statutory maximum that can be imposed for the offense Verde pleaded guilty to is 20 years in prison, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. The court may also impose a fine of US$250,000. BBN understands that, under the recommendations for sentencing by the Justice Department, Verde may be able to get between 2-5 years, if he cooperates with Federal investigators. Taken into account time already served, it is possible for Verde to be looking at a release date of early 2022, though this will be dependent on a number of circumstances falling in his favor.

Verde was arrested in the US on September 7, 2019 while returning from official business in Brussels. The complaint against Verde was lodged by Chris Williams, an American developer who owns the Orchid Bay development in northern Belize.

The complaint against Verde is that in 2016 he contacted Willimas, who had taken over the Orchid Bay project that year and had hired a construction firm based in southern Florida, and requesting a clandestine meeting over alleged delinquent tax obligations. Williams says he met with Verde in January 2017 and secretly recorded the conversation during which Verde insisted Williams owed BZ $1 million in unpaid taxes.

Williams maintained that his tax obligations were more in the range of $700,000 and hired a local accountant and attorney to investigate the issue. Upon learning their findings, Williams made a complaint to the FBI, spawning the investigation which led to his eventual arrest in Washington.

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