Culinary Union Urges Nevada Regulators to Investigate Alex Meruelo’s Financial Ties to His Brother and Other Issues That Raise Questions about His Suitability to Own and Operate SLS Las Vegas


Monday, February 12, 2018

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Culinary Union Urges Nevada Regulators to Investigate Alex Meruelo’s Financial Ties to His Brother and Other Issues That Raise Questions about His Suitability to Own and Operate SLS Las Vegas 

Las Vegas, NV – The Culinary Union is urging Nevada gaming regulators to fully investigate Alex Meruelo’s financial relationship with his brother Richard, his use of tax shelters, and the legality of his proposed acquisition on the SLS Las Vegas in relation to approval by the resort’s EB-5 investors. A copy of the letter the Culinary Union sent to the Nevada Gaming Control Board can be found here

“What we have learned about Alex Meruelo is troubling and raises serious questions about his suitability to own and operate the SLS Las Vegas,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union. The union is asking the Nevada gaming regulators to scrutinize three specific issues:

* Last March, Commercial Bank of California, where Alex Meruelo is an owner and a member of the board of directors, extended a $13 million loan to Rebuild Miami-Edgewater LLC, a speculative hotel development company facing foreclosure due to an unpaid $34 million loan. The company was (and still is) controlled by Richard Meruelo, who is Alex’s brother and has a history of business failures

* A tax case brought by the IRS against Alex Meruelo and his wife in 2003 was delayed “pending the resolution of a federal criminal investigation” against a third person.  In addition, the IRS had learned “that the Meruelos’ reported loss was generated by a tax shelter related to a grand jury investigation,” according to a published opinion by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

* Lastly, according to a lawsuit filed by EB-5 investors against the SLS and several other parties last fall, the pending sale of the resort to Alex Meruelo is based on a proposal that was not properly approved by EB-5 investors. 

“A thorough examination of these issues are needed to ensure continued public trust in the integrity and reputation of the state’s gaming industry,” said Argüello-Kline. “At a time when the ‘North Strip’ is beginning to see renewed development interest and activity, the stakes couldn’t be higher for all of the people whose livelihood, financial interests, and reputation are connected to the SLS Las Vegas.” 



Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Union Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent over 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of the casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America. 

The Culinary Union, through the Culinary Health Fund, is one of the largest healthcare consumers in the state. The Culinary Health Fund is sponsored by the Union and Las Vegas-area employers. It provides health insurance coverage for over 143,000 Nevadans, the Culinary Union’s members and their dependents.

The Culinary Union is Nevada’s largest immigrant organization with over 57,000 members - a diverse membership that is approximately 55% women and 54% Latino. Members - who work as guest room attendants, bartenders, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, and kitchen workers - come from 173 countries and speak over 40 different languages. The Culinary Union has been fighting for fair wages, job security, and good health benefits for working men and women in Nevada for 83 years. / @Culinary226

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