SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The administrators of a top luxury hotel in Puerto Rico have been arrested and charged in a tax evasion case as the U.S. territory cracks down on corruption amid a worsening economic crisis, officials said Monday.
The island's Justice Department said Wilhelm Sack and Harold Davies Mayne of the Horned Dorset Primavera are accused of withholding more than $600,000 in room occupancy tax for the past six years.
The announcement comes nearly a year after the hotel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it struggled with nearly $1.7 million in debts, including nearly $1 million owed to Puerto Rico's Treasury Department and more than $320,000 owed to the island's struggling power company.
Attorneys for the two administrators could not be immediately reached. Sack is being held on $29,000 bond and Mayne on $232,000 bond. Adrian Santiago, the hotel's reservation manager, said he had no comment. Sack did not immediately reply to an email for comment. They are scheduled to appear in court on March 14 for a preliminary hearing.
It is one of the most high-profile cases to date since the local government began pursuing suspected tax evaders late last year in an attempt to recover millions of dollars. The island's liquidity has dwindled amid a nearly decade-long economic slump and Puerto Rico faces $72 billion in public debt that the governor has said is unpayable and needs restructuring.
Authorities say the suspects are accused of withholding tax revenues owed to the island's Tourism Company from December 2008 to October 2015.
"Horned Dorset has been an institution for Puerto Rico tourism, holding us up high for decades in the international market," said Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda. "It's a shame they haven't met their tax obligations. ... We will pursue this case like any other."
The two men face a total of 174 charges.
The hotel located in the popular tourist town of Rincon in western Puerto Rico has suites that go for up to $1,600 a night.