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Jan 27, 2020

Trial of Lev Dermen Gets Underway in Utah with Jury Selection

Accused fraudster Lev Dermen who owned a chain of gas stations under the name Noil Energy in Los Angeles, is headed to trial. “Noil” is “lion” spelled backward and it is one of several examples of Dermen’s affinity for the big cat. Other businesses of his have had the word “lion” in them as well.  His chosen middle name, “Aslan,” is Turkish for lion. Today, in the Utah District Court, jurors were selected ahead of the beginning of litigation next Monday.  Despite being tried on previous occasions, Dermen was acquitted of assaulting an undercover police officer. He also was cleared in a California trial accusing him of defrauding consumers who bought gas at service stations he owns in the Los Angeles area.  Tonight, we look at the latest developments leading up to the trial, as well as its potential impact on the Government of Belize.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The trial of Lev Dermen got underway today in the Utah District Court with the task of jury selection which is expected to continue through Tuesday. So far, both sides have presented their lists of witnesses. At this very early stage, there was no mention of allegations of bribes paid to local government officials. The trial is expected to continue for six weeks. Dermen, as you know, is facing ten charges relating to a five hundred and eleven million dollar bio fuel fraud. Those charges include conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.At the centre of the case is Washakie Renewable Energy which instead of producing bio fuel, purchased it from another source and then proceeded to submit the fuel for a tax credit. Dermen is accused of paying off a judge, as well as law enforcement officers in the US, but the extensive network of tax fraud extended to Panama and Turkey. Monthly payments of twenty-five thousand dollars were also paid to Belize government officials, according to Jacob Kingston, one of the defendants testifying against Dermen in a plea deal. Dermen is known to have a good circle of friends in Belize, where he owns land at the Corozal Free Zone and was desperately seeking a diplomatic appointment.   He also applied for an online gambling license. Any potential damning testimony in bribery will come from Kingston. He claims to be in possession of text messages with Minister of National Security John Saldivar. Over the weekend, Saldivar posted that there is nothing incriminating in the text messages and that he is proceeding full steam ahead with his bid for the leadership of the U.D.P. on February ninth.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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