Banco Latino S.A.C.A. wins jury trial as court enters multi-million dollar judgment against Milagros Cisneros

by admin on March 28, 2011

Ten years after Banco Latino, S.A.C.A. sued Milagros Cisneros, a member of the prominent Venezuelan family and her now defunct company, Explotaciones Mineras de Venezuela, C.A. (“Exmivenca”), to collect on a multi-million dollar loan, the case ended with a bang.  After three days of a jury trial, Cisneros’ attorneys, Thomas G. Schultz and Bryan T. West of Miami-based Tew Cardenas, LLP conceded liability.  After hearing testimony from the bank’s witnesses, Mr. Schultz announced to Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Maxine Cohen Lando that Cisneros would agree to the entry of a $9,254,066.51 judgment against her.

The Complaint, filed in February 1999, alleged that Ms. Cisneros, as sole shareholder of Exmivenca, entered into an agreement for one year with the bank to establish a trade credit facility to finance purchases from U.S. suppliers for export to Venezuela. In order to further induce the bank to extend loans and advances of funds, Ms. Cisneros unconditionally and absolutely guaranteed payment of all obligations or liability of Exmivenca to the bank.

In October 1993, Exmivenca requested to renew the credit facility for another year subject to the availability of funds, and gave the bank a promissory note in the amount of $2.5 million.  Then Exmivenca obtained $ 1,188,739.33. in additional loans and advances from the bank under the credit facility from October to December of 1993.

Exmivenca defaulted on the loans by failing to pay the bank the outstanding principal and interest due under the promissory note upon maturity.

Gary E. Davidson, and Carlos F. Gonzalez and I represented Banco Latino S.A.C.A.  To say that we were very pleased with the result of the jury trial, especially because Ms. Cisneros agreed to pay the full amount claimed by the bank, would be entirely accurate.

This is a resounding victory for Venezuela’s banking authorities. Trial lawyers always want to hear a jury return a verdict in their favor, but the victory is even sweeter when your opponent surrenders before you have even finished your case.  Cisneros’ concession only confirmed the strength of our case.

Davidson offered this quote to the media, “although there is a great deal of resentment against banks in the current environment, we were confident that when presented with the evidence establishing that Cisneros guaranteed the loans made to her company, the jury would return a verdict in our favor.”  And, Gonzalez agreed, noting that, “In the end, it was Cisneros’ own lawyers who realized that the case could not be won by the Cisneros family.”

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