David Nanes Schnitzer missing after getting bail: COLA demands action from the Government
Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
17 days after being apprehended in connection with one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, 47-year-old David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer has not only received bail but is also nowhere to be found. Nanes Schnitzer, who was the president of Stanford Group Mexico overseeing operations in Mexico, Panama and other parts of Latin America, and believed to have defrauded over a thousand Mexican investors, had been in custody of the Belize Police Department up to Friday, November 20th. But Supreme Court Judge Denis Hanomansingh granted him bail of $10,000 during his last court hearing, even after Chief Magistrate Anne Marie Smith had denied him bail twice, as he presents a high flight risk. Now, Nanes Schnitzer is nowhere to be found, and police believe he has fled the country.
After being apprehended in Ambergris Caye following a special operation conducted by the San Pedro Police Department, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the US Marshals Service, Mexican authorities were attempting to have him handed over to them to face charges he had pending there. Mexico has had an arrest warrant for Nanes Schnitzer since 2011 for unauthorized securities transactions within the country. He allegedly defrauded Mexican investors of $42US million.
But Belize officials refused to allow his extradition as Nanes Schnitzer faced charges here in Belize for producing a forged document. He first appeared in court on Friday, November 6th, where he pled guilty to the charge of having a fraudulent driver’s license (SP-2269) which was found on the day of his arrest. On his second hearing on Friday, November 9th, Nanes Schnitzer changed his plea from guilty to not guilty under advice from his Attorney-at-law Liesje Barrow Chung in hopes of being granted bail. But Magistrate Smith did not grant him bail, stating that he was a flight risk, and as such he was remanded to Central Prison. It was not until his third court appearance that Nanes Schnitzer was granted bail by Justice Hanomansingh who indicated that he was doing so as he did not believe Nanes Schnitzer is a flight risk. The bail was set at $10,000 plus one surety of the same amount, which he easily met.
Being out on bail for forgery required Nanes Schnitzer to surrender all his travelling documents and report to the San Pedro Police Statin twice a week, which he has not done as yet. The leading argument for granting him bail was that he is has businesses in Belize that tie him to the country. Some of his businesses include several properties on Ambergris Caye, a condo development in Hopkins Village and various active bank accounts.
Since then, authorities have not issued any confirmation as to the whereabouts of Nanes Schnitzer, and according to San Pedro Police, they do not believe he is back on the island. Many speculated that he has left the country, violating his bail agreement and is once again on INTERPOL’s wanted list. But whether Nanes Schnitzer left the country or remains here, he is in violation of court orders. If he has fled the country it was illegally done, and is probably under a new identity, as his passport had been revoked as of Wednesday, November 18th. The Ministry of Immigration gazetted “”David M Banes, known as David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer… who was registered as a citizen of Belize as evidenced by certificate of registration dated 17th November, 2012, was so registered by means of fraud, false representation and the concealment of material circumstance and by mistake. I do declare that the above mentioned David M. Banes shall hereby cease to be a citizen of Belize.”
Nanes Schnitzer, who had been living in San Pedro for close to three years, had accomplished far much more than other immigrants who have lived here for much longer. He had obtained Belizean documents including a passport, permanent residency card, voter’s ID, both San Pedro Town and Belize City driver’s licenses, a boat captain license and even a Social Security card. While living here, Nanes Schnitzer was under a different name, thus eluding authorities. His possession of all these document have led authorities to believe that fraud was employed to obtained each document and the agencies that administered them are now to be investigated.
This incident has even caused severe criticism of the Belize Government, and Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) has condemned the manner Nanes Schnitzer’s case was handled. COLA questions how the country’s justice system could grant bail to someone accused of such serious crimes not only within Belize but on an international level. “How does Belize’s justice system reconcile granting bail to a man accused of grave crimes, who is no longer a Belizean and never truly was, while two young mothers are sent to jail over the weekend for a relatively minor offence? We are left to ask this following the events involving David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer, a man of many names and even more money, who has apparently managed to comprehensively intrude into Belize, buying everyone in his path, in an attempt to distance himself from one of the largest fraud schemes in history… One crime is not better than another. We make no defense of the women, but neither do we condone David Schnitzer. Admission to bail is a right, not a privilege. After the facts of the case have been considered, the Magistrate or Judge is to act in the interest of the citizenry, but even more importantly, in the interest of the accused, who otherwise faces being held against his or her will… The Nanes Schnitzer matter deserves full and thorough investigation. We need to hear publicly from the Minister for Immigration and Nationality,” said COLA’s president, Geovannie Brackett.
The San Pedro Sun will continue to follow the police investigations and court action of David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer.
Please help support Local Journalism in Belize
For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.Click to Donate