San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tico accountant sentenced to 4.5 years in prison in U.S. insurance scam trial

A U.S. court in Richmond, Virginia, on Friday sentenced Costa Rican accountant Jorge Luis Castillo to 4.5 years in a federal prison for cooking the books of a company owned by businessman Minor Vargas as part of a $485 million life insurance scam, Business Week magazine reported.

Castillo received a reduced sentence after testifying against Vargas in the trial. Castillo admitted to fraudulent accounting practices on behalf of Provident Capital Indemnity Ltd., and apologized for his role in the global scheme that claimed thousands of victims, including many who lost their life savings.

“I regret from the bottom of my heart the consequences of this unscrupulous scheme of which I was a part,” Castillo told U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney.

Castillo is the ninth and final defendant sentenced in Virginia in a pair of related cases involving the life settlement industry. Most pleaded guilty, but Vargas and two principals of Houston-based A&O went to trial and were convicted.

In October, Vargas was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the crimes of fraud and money laundering. He was president and owner of Brujas Football Club and Club Deportivo Barrio Mexico, both in Costa Rica. He also was president of powerhouse soccer club Saprissa, and the owner of publishing company Icon Group and a synthetic turf business.

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