February 12, 2018 11:18 pm

Head of RIU hotel chain facing corruption charges in Miami

Hotel Riu Plaza Miami Beach.

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The head of the RIU hotel chain turned himself in to Miami police on Monday to face corruption charges.

Luis Riu Guell Jr. flew from Spain to Miami where he appeared in a courtroom to be processed, the Miami Herald reports. He is expected to be released quickly on a US$20,000 bond and won’t face any travel restrictions.

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The hotelier is facing allegations he provided free accommodations at luxury resorts to Miami Beach’s top building official for assistance in renovating the Hotel RIU Plaza Miami Beach.

“We are confident that our clients have committed no crime whatsoever,” Barry Wax, Riu’s defence attorney, told reporters Monday.

Riu, alongside his sister, controls the RIU chain of hotels which was founded in 1953 by their grandparents. The company has 92 hotels in 19 countries and employs almost 29,000 people, according to its website.

The charges were announced last week when Mariano Fernandez, former director of the Building Department for the City of Miami Beach, was arrested. He was fired from his posting in 2017.

According to Fernandez’s warrant, the hotel was having trouble with the permitting process before he stepped into help.

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In exchange for his assistance, Fernandez was given complimentary and heavily-discounted stays at RIU properties. The entire Miami Beach building department was alleged to have received discounted stays at RIU resorts in 2015 and 2016.

While the stays were alleged to have been approved by RIU managers Alejandro Sanchez and Richard Luque, the District Attorney’s Office says that Riu approved the measures.

Sanchez also surrendered Monday while Luque is now a witness for the state.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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