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Film producer sues gov’t over documents certifying $1.7M tax credit

The tax break is for producing the film entirely in Puerto Rico.

Eminence Corp. of Maryland, which produced the film “Hollywood Deal” released in December, has filed a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and seeking damages against Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) and the Treasury Department for failing to issue documents certifying film tax credits.

The company claims it is unable to sell the $1.7 million tax credit granted Oct. 10, 2020, due to the absence of the required documents. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, also seeks an additional $2 million for damages and fees. Judge Pedro A. Delgado-Hernández is presiding over the case.

Eminence Corp. asserts it hired an independent auditor, CPA Hiram Vázquez-Botet, paying $25,000 to draft and submit the necessary audit and documentation to the DDEC and Treasury on time for the sale of the tax credit.

Furthermore, the company said it paid $39,000 in government fees as part of the incentives process.

The filing details a direct conversation between the company and Pierluisi, after which Eminence was instructed to summarize the discussion in a letter, subsequently delivered to the governor’s office and received by his personal secretary.

The letter was then sent to attorney Yolanda Díaz-Rivera at the governor’s executive mansion, La Fortaleza, who, despite reportedly having previously worked at the DDEC, which runs the Puerto Rico Film Commission and its incentives program, claimed ignorance about the film industry, the lawsuit states.

According to Eminence, Díaz-Rivera and La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Noelia García later replied, requesting a second independent audit, a stipulation the company argues is not mandated by the Puerto Rico Incentives Law and accuses of being politically motivated.

“Obviously everything that the defendants are doing is under political motivation, especially towards our films that are in English, with Spanish subtitles, with star casting of American, International and some famous local stars … most of which are statehooders,” Eminence expressed.

The company confirmed that when it was granted a tax credit for another one of its films, “Attraction to Paris,” it sold it to Plaza Las Américas “and a former secretary of Puerto Rico during the administration of former Gov. Luis Fortuño and others.”

“Hollywood Deal” is the fourth film produced by Eminence Corp. since 2011 and was directed by brothers Miguel and Irmgard Martínez. It premiered on Dec. 7, at Caribbean Cinemas in Plaza Las Américas.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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