Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Sept. 19, 2003) -- A grand jury in Florida is probing whether the Seminole tribe avoided paying millions of dollars in taxes on its gambling windfall, according to the Sun Sentinel newspaper.

Three regulatory agencies are also probing a construction contract that could cost the tribe as much as $250 million over 10 years.

The Internal Revenue Service and the grand jury have been looking at about $120 million worth of gifts Seminole leaders gave to friends, relatives and other tribal members. Tribal leaders admit they never paid the federally required taxes on most of the gifts, which included luxury cars and cosmetic surgery.

Meanwhile, three federal agencies are raising questions about the tribe's 1999 contract to build its Coconut Creek casino, a deal regulators said is so lopsided against the Seminoles it might not be legal. In a series of letters, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Interior Department said the contract, which calls for the tribe to pay up to $250 million for a building that cost no more than $16 million to construct, could be voided.

-- WebCPA staff

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