Justice Department denies request to freeze Caribbean gambling millions

POSTED: 08/22/11 12:22 PM

MIAMI – The American Justice Department has asked a federal judge to freeze about $30 million that prosecutors say forms the laundered proceeds of a massive illegal gambling operation in the Dutch Caribbean, the Wall street Journal reported on Friday. Judge Kollar-Kotelly denied the request and has asked the Justice Department to back up its request with another brief that is expected today.
In federal court documents unsealed Friday in Washington, prosecutors said the funds are spread among three UBS investment accounts in Miami held by Shell companies, which in turn are controlled by R.A. d. S., from national who runs legal gambling operations on both Curacao and St. Maarten.
Authorities in Curacao have been investigating allegations that d. S. has collected about $54 million in illegal profits since 2004 through the sale of forged lottery tickets, using his legitimate businesses as a front, according to court documents.
According to the August 12 application, d. S. and his wife declared a joint income of $67,500 in their most recent tax return, but prosecutors say they’ve traced $28 million in the UBS accounts to the couple and to the Shell companies they control.
The bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
R.d.S. has not been charged in Curacao. According to local press reports, authorities raided his businesses and home last month, a flash-point in the two-year investigation.
A lawyer for the suspect in Miami, J. Everett Wilson, did not respond to a request for comment. R. d. S. has denied the allegations.
On August 12, the Justice Department, acting at the behest of the public prosecutor’s office in Curacao, filed an application with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to enforce a restraining order issued by a court in Curacao.
Kollar-Kotelly did not grant the request. Instead, she sharply criticized the Justice Department application, writing that it “does not mention, let alone explain how” the freeze order would be consistent with previous court interpretations of a Patriot Act provision allowing U.S. judges to enforce judgments by foreign courts.
She has asked the Justice Department to back up its legal argument with another brief by today.
Congress amended the law in December to give the Justice Department greater flexibility to seek freeze orders against the assets of suspects under investigation by foreign governments.

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