Secret money transfers
By JADA LOUTOO Wednesday, August 14 2013
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Grand casino: A man looks out as a woman approaches at The Island Club Casino at Grand Bazaar, Valsayn. ...
The AMERICAN owner of the Island Club Casino in Grand Bazaar, who is on tax evasion charges in the United States (US), has other business interests in Trinidad and according to persons who have worked for him “everything is in a mess.”
On Monday, David Migliore, 50, of Brielle, New Jersey, appeared before a federal court in Newark, charged with using a series of shell companies to secretly transfer income from the casino, located at Grand Bazaar, Valsayn, into accounts he controlled to pay for his personal expenses in New Jersey and elsewhere. It is alleged that he failed to pay income taxes on US$3.9 million in casino profits.
Migliore also owns La Soufriere Maritime Inc, a marine services company located in Chaguaramas which is also listed among the firms named in the US indictment.
Contacted yesterday, an employee said he knew nothing about the charges against Migliore in the United States (US) and while the New Jersey man was still the owner of La Soufriere, he had not spoken to him in three years.
“They left everything in a mess. I cannot help you with anything,” the employee said. He refused to elaborate.
Norman Sabga, chairman and CEO of the Ansa McAl Group of Companies, which includes Grand Bazaar, yesterday said he first learnt of the story involving Migliore through newspaper reports.
“I suppose that’s his issue,” Sabga said. “I mean, we’re just landlords. As far as I know they (Island Club Casino) are very good tenants. They pay their rent. I don’t know the gentleman but it just goes to show you how efficient the law authorities are in the United States of America.”
Migliore turned himself into special agents of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on Monday, hours before his court appearance before US Magistrate Judge Mark Falk.
Tax evasion is not the only legal challenge facing the Island Club Casino owner, as he is facing cocaine and other drug related charges, also in the US.
According to media reports in the US, Migliore was arrested in January on charges of possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute it, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute it within 500 feet of a park, possession of oxycodone and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Assistant US Attorney Zahid Quraishi said Migliore was indicted on three counts of tax evasion and three counts of willfully failing to file personal tax returns.
He was released on US$1 million bond secured by two properties and ordered to submit to electronic monitoring.
Migliore, according to the report in the Star Ledger, was described by his attorney as a business consultant. He owned the Island Club Casino and also held a number of limited liability corporations registered in New Jersey, including Brielle Investment LLC, Brielle Investments & Management Co LLC, and La Soufriere Maritime Inc.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, Migliore used bank accounts in the US in the name of his business entities to pay his expenses. He also had casino employees wire him money through Western Union.
According to the US indictment, the Island Club Casino paid its owner more than US$3.9 million, but federal law enforcement authorities said he tried to hide that from the tax man.
Between 2009 and 2011, prosecutors said he failed to file personal tax returns on this income, resulting in a US$1 million loss to the IRS.
His attorney, Robert Weir of Red Bank, did not discuss the charges, but said Migliore was a “self-made man” who had done consulting for the casino before buying it outright. He owned the Island Club Casino for ten years, but no longer holds an interest, said Weir.
Attempts by Newsday to speak with Island Club Casino manager Abbas Khaladi were again futile as it was said he was not at the office each time calls were placed to the casino.
According to a former employee at the Island Club Casino, Migliore was hardly ever in Trinidad and all they were told was that he “had some immigration challenges”.
“He would come once per year and has hardly been around for a few years,” the former casino worker said.
Minister of Finance Larry Howai told the media yesterday that he was not in a position to comment on the Migliore investigations in the US, saying the work of the Board of Inland Revenue Criminal Tax Investigation Unit remained confidential.
He also would not say if the local authorities were aware of the US investigation or if they cooperated with their counterparts in the US.