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Jan 29, 2020

Lev Dermen Trial Underway in Utah

Lev Dermen

The trial of Lev Dermen in Utah is attracting attention in many countries, including Belize, because one witness has named a local government official and says he has text messages to corroborate what he will tell the court to prove that Dermen was involved in money laundering on an international scale. As arguments begin, critical information is expected from Jacob Kingston. Here is a report from Isani Cayetano.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Opening arguments in the case against Lev Dermen got underway today inside the U.S. District Court of Utah.  Dermen stands accused of participating and masterminding a tax credit scheme that netted him and business associates, Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, over half a billion dollars through a biofuel company in Salt Lake City.  The brothers both pleaded guilty to money fraud and several other charges in July 2019. Jacob Kingston, however, is set to testify against Dermen and is expected to provide details on the money laundering scheme which included the purchase of high-end vehicles and properties.  Dermen, on the other hand, has pleaded not guilty to ten counts, including money laundering and mail fraud.  Dermen’s counsel, Los Angeles based attorney Mark Geragos, is expected to rebut arguments put forward by the prosecution that he was in fact the chief architect of the scheme.  Under the phony operation, Washakie Renewable Energy created false production records in order to qualify for and receive renewable-fuel tax credits.  The proceeds were then legitimized through a number of purchases and investments overseas that spanned a six-year period between 2010 and 2016.  The trial is underway in Utah, but many Belizeans are anxiously awaiting the testimony of Jacob Kingston who will take the stand and testify that Dermen paid a U.D.P. minister twenty-five thousand dollars monthly in bribes.  While John Saldivar’s name has appeared as one of those individuals who both men corresponded with via text messages, he has denied all claims of having accepted any monies from Dermen.  The matter continues on Thursday.

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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