Headline — 14 September 2019 — by Rowland A. Parks
Reynaldo Verde, Deputy Director of Belize Tax Services, nabbed in US on extortion charge: FBI

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Sept. 9, 2019– The newly amalgamated Income Tax and General Sales Tax (GST) Department, which is now known as Belize Tax Services, has become the focus of negative public scrutiny after the country received a national and international black-eye when its Deputy Director, Reynaldo Verde, who traveled to Brussels on official business, was nabbed by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and charged with extortion and attempted extortion as he was transiting the US on his return trip home.

An FBI release issued today, Monday, September 9, 2019, said, “The FBI announces the arrest of Reynaldo Verde, 46, of the country of Belize, by complaint for his alleged interference with commerce by means of extortion and attempted extortion.”

Interestingly, the FBI release did not name the complainant in the case against one of Belize’s senior tax administrators, and neither did the release provide any information on the possible arraignment of Verde or arrangements for him to receive bail, which leads to the conclusion that Verde is being held in detention while the agency ties up its loose ends in its case against him. The release ends, saying that the FBI is continuing its investigation.

Financial Secretary Joseph Waight told local media today that Verde had traveled to Belgium, Brussels, along with another staff member of the Belize Tax Service Department (the department falls under the Ministry of Finance) and was arrested on Saturday, September 7, on his way home.

Waight said that it is his understanding that Verde had violated some US criminal law having to do with commerce. He was supposed to have been charged this morning, Waight said.

Waight explained that he is not aware of what the US charge(s) against Verde is, and that he (Verde) would have to mount his own defense.

Waight also said that the Belize Embassy has reached out to Verde, but their “efforts to see him have been unsuccessful…”   Waight said he wished Verde well, because “he must be in a very difficult situation.”

The FBI release described Verde as “the assistant commissioner of General Sales Tax for the Government of Belize,” and said that he “was arrested without incident by the FBI at Washington Dulles International Airport on Saturday, September 7, 2019.”

Verde, however, was traveling as the Deputy Director of Belize Tax Services, a newly created government department in the Ministry of Finance.

Verde was scheduled to appear in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia today.

“Customs and Border Protection assisted during the arrest,” the FBI release added.

The release ended, saying that the FBI is continuing its investigation, and no further information will be released at this time.

On two different occasions Verde was charged in Belize with firearm-related offences, and he was remanded on one of those occasions. He regained his freedom when he received bail from the Supreme Court.

In April 2013, on Easter Sunday, Verde got into an altercation with another man on San Pedro and he drew his licensed Lugar pistol and shot the San Pedro resident, Allen Martinez, once in the hip.

Then, in January 2014, Verde was arrested and charged with possession of an unlicensed firearm. Everyone who has been charged with that offense has been remanded to prison.

That, however, had not been the case with Verde. He did not even spend one night on remand. Police released him after he told them that he saw someone put the unlicensed gun in his yard. Any average accused person would have had to be exonerated by the court, not by his word to the police.

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Deshawn Swasey

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