In Miami last week, Luis Riu, who, along with his sister Carmen, heads up Riu Hotels, the global chain of mostly luxury resort hotels which has more than 100 properties in 19 countries, was charged with illegally compensating officials charged with inspections of, and the granting of permits, to the Riu hotel in Miami Beach, which recently underwent a nearly three-year renovation.
Popular among South Americans, the Riu Plaza Miami Beach is one of two Riu-owned U .S. properties. The other is the Riu Plaza New York Times Square Hotel. Most Riu properties are luxury hotel-resorts. The chain is owned by TUI, Europe’s largest travel company, which is headquartered in Hannover, Germany.
Riu hotels was founded in 1953 by Juan Riu Masmitja and his wife Maria Bertran Espigule, along with their son, Luis Riu Bertran when the family opened an 80-bed hotel in Playa de Palma (Mallorca), Spain. Luis and Carmen Riu Guell took on the post of managing directors of the chain in 1998, upon the death of their father. They are the third generation of the family to run the company.
A Short Stay: Specifically, prosecutors have charged Mariano Fernández, former building director for Miami Beach, as well as Riu and the company’s regional vice president, Alejandro Sanchez del Arco. The Riu Hotel and Resorts Florida subsidiary was also charged. All are all charged with unlawful compensation and conspiracy to commit unlawful compensation.
The criminal charges stem from the renovation of the Riu Plaza Hotel, 3101 Collins Avenue, in the heart of luxury beachfront properties that line the street—south of the Fontainebleau but north of the Ritz-Carlton. The Miami Beach building department was in charge of permitting and inspections and the granting of permits during the renovation of the property that took place between October 2013 and June 2016.
As reported by several news sites, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office believes that Fernández helped Riu with securing permissions, even allowing them to skirt fines, while he regularly solicited free and comped rooms for him and his employees. According to an arrest warrant,Riu flew into from Spain for processing on Feb. 12. His stay behind bars was brief—he spent most of the day in custody and was allowed to post a $20,000 bond that night. He will be able travel from his home in Mallorca, Spain, to resorts around the world.
A Riu company statement strongly defended Luis Riu: “Our executives are absolutely innocent of the charges against them. We trust that the judicial system of the United States will conclude that these accusations are totally unfounded, and our executives want impatiently to prove their innocence, “it said, pointing out that Riu traveled from Spain “to appear voluntarily this Monday before the court, where the charges would be presented, as agreed and coordinated with the local authorities. It is part of the usual procedure that this reading be done with the defendant standing and as seen in the published images. ”