Introduction

 

 

The Ecuadorian bank, Filanbanco’s failure helped cause the 1999 banking crisis in this tiny country.  It is estimated that the brothers, William and Roberto Isaias Dassum, owe the Ecuadorian treasury a whopping $661 million which they allegedly embezzled from the bank.  Armando Bermeo, then head of the Supreme Court, accused the Isaias brothers of the crime of bank embezzlement and forgery in the arbitrary handling of depositors’ money, as well as several credits granted by the Central Bank Filanbanco through a government bailout. The allegation was finally etched in fact as the Isaias were accused and then convicted of hiding the Filanbanco’s financial problems from Ecuadorian regulators.  They also were judged to have embezzled $158 million.

At Filanbanco, Roberto Isaias served as executive president and William Isaias as executive vice president — that is until the crisis. Both of them left when the bank was turned over in 1998 to a newly created deposit Ecuadorian guarantee agency similar to the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.  The 2009 lawsuit filed in Miami claims some of the pilfered money garnered by the Isaias came from $1.11 billion in Ecuador bail-out monies injected into the bank to keep it afloat.

The Isaias family used and continues to use their vast media holdings to proclaim their innocence.

The financial mess caused the Ecuadorian national treasury about $8 billion and damage to thousands of customers. Equity missing at Flianbanco has been pegged at over $600 million. (http://www.cuencahighlife.com/post/2013/07/05/Snowden-asylum-case-brings-up-the-case-of-Ecuadors-Isaias-brothers3b-Ecuador-claims-that-the-US-uses-a-legal-double-standard.aspx).

The brothers fled Ecuador in 2000, going of course to Florida, a hot bed of right wing extremism and there they began teaming their money in Miami with other shady institutions and individuals. The brothers were convicted by an Ecuadorian court in absentia in 2003. According to Ecuadorian authorities, the Isaias’ booty was and is stashed in U.S. banks, mostly in Miami, as well as in banks in other countries (ibid).

Not surprisingly, in Miami, many sectors of the eastern ‘terror-state’ see the ex-Ecuadorian banksters as little more than successful investors that have been associated with corporate media companies and American credit companies, as well as being hefty financiers of many American political campaigns.

Yet then there are others, including the former Ecuadorian diplomat Kristie Kenney (United States Ambassador to Ecuador 2002 – 2005), who have described the banking fugitives’ wealth as “ill-gotten.”  This is verbal nicety for ‘theft’ and ‘larceny’.  Kenney went on in the leaked cable to Wikileaks to qualify the fortune of the Isaias as “ill-gotten” and said that  their wealth allowed them to “safely buy their way out of Ecuador” (El Telegrafo, July 29, 2013, page 5).

Never mind, for from the affluent Florida city of Coral Gables, the Isaias, convicted bank-fraud fugitives from Ecuador, continue to live opulent lives and manage their economic empire within the US, even while U.S. diplomat Kenney believes they used dirty money to flee (ibid).

In fact, the ex-US ambassador from Ecuador, Kristie Kenney, in one of the many cables leaked to WikiLeaks, warned her country (the US) that the Isaias were criminal defendants in the management of Filanbanco, which they directed from the city of Coral Gables (Florida) and from which they administered their economic empire. She indicated that some of the properties they owned were not even in their names.

Meanwhile as the Obama administration clamors for the extradition of Edward Snowden the ex—CIA/Booz Allan Hamilton employee who leaked the news of NSA PRISM (US spying) the U.S. Government refuses to extradite the Isaias brothers who are now living a life of extravagance in Miami.  In fact, they are seen as lucrative financiers by many, for they have been allowed to acquire luxurious US properties or have been able to partner with companies and the media, such as MIA TV and other channels in New York, Orlando and Tampa, and the newspaper El Nuevo Herald since their conviction in absentia.

William Isaias has been the owner of the Republican National Bank of Miami since 1970.  The newspaper, El Telegrafo reported on July 29, 2013 that the fugitive William Isais owns at least six properties in his name in the city of Coral Gables and Miami (El Telegrafo, Ecuador, July 29th, 2013 page 5).

Some History

The truth is that in 13 years, the Deposit Guarantee Agencia (AGD) of Ecuador seized about 200 companies linked to the fugitive Isaias brothers, including: the holding sugar EQ2, Maxigraf, Filanbanco (ExFilantrópica), Emilio Isaiah Company Anonymous (EICA), TC Television, GamaTV and cable TV.  Many shares of the companies seized have already been sold-off by the State of Ecuador.

The companies seized by the Ecuadorian state in 2005 included 70 Radio stations, 3 TV stations, the largest sugar processor in the country, automotive plants, many name brand products and a yogurt plant. In raids backed by dozens of police, a state agency that protects depositors in failed banks took over TC Television, TC Noticias and Gamavision stations, along with dozens of insurance, construction and real estate businesses owned by the Isaias Group. The companies were allegedly linked to bankers facing embezzlement charges after the 1998 collapse of Filanbanco bank (ibid).

In July of 2008, Ecuador’s government seized three television stations and nearly 200 other businesses for the couple’s debts stemming from the criminal bank failure in the 1990s.

The government of President Rafael Correa said in 2008 that the 195 seized companies owe the country millions and the move gives hope that thousands of depositors could recover the money they lost when the bank collapsed (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/25593085/ns/world_news-americas/t/ecuador-seizes-tv-stations-businesses/#.UfmBAqxRzms).

But the seizure of the Isaias assets has not been easy.  In another WikiLeaks cable, dated August 8, 2008, it was explained that
the structured properties the Isaias own is very complex because involves other businesses which “makes it difficult to list all the properties of this economic group” (ibid).

Amazingly, Xavier Castro, the lawyer for the Isaias in Ecuador ensured that his clients owe nothing to the state (Ecuador) and that, conversely, the state of Ecuador owes damages to the fugitives from justice.  In a countersuit filed by the brothers, their lawyer has stated the Ecuadorian state had no right to seize the brother’s assets in Ecuador, so “at some point they need to give the assets back” (El Telegrafo, July 29, 2013).

According to Castro,

`”There is a report of Ecuadorian State losses more than $ 2,000 million in stolen assets from Filanbanco for five governments.  The Isaiah’s delivered Filanbanco to State in 1998 and the bank closed in 2001, after three years of administration by the state.  By merging the bank with the La Previsora they broke the bank and then turned around and blamed the Isaias” (ibid).

In other words, three years of state administration and an ill thought out merger brought the bank down, not the theft by the Isaias.

However, according to the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, Filanbanco debt amounts to $776.8 million, principal and interest combined.  Castro disagrees, arguing on behalf of his clients, with whom he met last week in Miami while they were on holiday that:

“The figures presented by the President are not correct, they are figures that the Superintendent of ExAGD gave the banks and in which there is not any consideration of the important aspects of the administration’s backing of the bank” (ibid).

For Castro, not taking into account the governmental AGD administration meant that:

“In 1999 the government took over the bank AGD and this revenue is not shown in the figures put forth by Correa. What they are doing is mixing balance sheets and income sheets from 1998 and 1999, and inflating them to achieve the amount the President announced” (ibid)

Michael Tein, attorney for the Isaias in the U.S., told the private newspaper, El Universo last week that AGD noted, “without a previous judgment or trial his (Castro’s) clients were then told they owed $661 million and that based on this, the government seized $400 million from the Isaias in Ecuador (See above).

His argument, on July 12, 2013 before the court was that through this action the government has concluded the Isaias owed Ecuadorian AGD $200 million and Ecuador had the right in pursuing this amount of liability in Miami by seizing assets from the pair.  However he stated:

“For us it was an attempt to confiscate property without due process”(ibid).

Given this, the Attorney General State of Ecuador (PGE) indicated that in the lawsuit brought in the U.S. was not an attempt to seize properties the Isaiah’s own in Miami, but simply an attempt to collect illegal outstanding debts owed to the Latin American country.

Legal Developments

On June 27th, 2011 an attempt by two fugitive banker-brothers to block Ecuador’s claims that they owe $662 million was thwarted when Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Gill Freeman said she didn’t have the power to intervene in foreign matters (http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202498531130&Miami_Judge_Wont_Step_In_to_Protect_Fugitive_Bankers_From_Ecuador#ixzz2aey4iglH).

Then, a few days ago, the Ecuadorian Attorney “General” asked the Miami court to suspend the court’s order of June 14, 2013 whereby the court ordered that $1 million dollars, for costs and fees for the pair’s attorneys be paid by the Ecuadorian government. The Ecuadorian government called for lifting the order pending a resolution on an appeal of the Miami court’s ruling in the legal process against the ex-banksters.

This appeal process was made on June, 19, 2013. The Ecuadorian government appealed the ruling rendered on the 30th of May of this year by the Judge of the Eleventh County Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade (Florida), Judge John Thornton. In the judge’s decision in May, he ruled that Ecuador is and was prevented any access to Isaias’ assets in U.S.

The Isaias had argued before Judge Thornton that they would submit a bid to Ecuador to put economic end to the legal process; in essence an offer to settle.  Yet on June 27, 2013 their offer was rejected by Ecuador. The Ombudsman did not accept the offer on the grounds that the offer was not presented in good faith and the economic offer to settle was “meager and vague”.  The ombudsmen’s decision gave the Isaias lawyers the right to proceed in an effort to collect legal fees of $1 million they say they are owed.  Judge Thornton, however, justified the appeal filed by Ecuador.

Still doing media, banking in the US

Fugitives from the law, Robert and William Isaias are Lebanese descendants who came to Ecuador in 1912 and adopted the name of Emilio Isaiah Abihana.  After problems with Filanbanco and their flight to the U.S., they have dedicated themselves to diversify their investment portfolio, with shares in the CNN Latino and other investments related to banking. Not surprisingly they even finance political campaigns in theUS; just like they did in Ecuador.

On June 18th of this year, AFP in a note dedicated to the creation of CNN Latino in the U.S. commented regarding the ex-bankers business holdings in a Florida TV channel:

“The Group has a television station, Isaiah TV in Miami. The company belongs to Robert and William, ex-owners of Filanbanco and fugitives from the Ecuadorian courts. The MIA ex-bankers could own a newly created TV channel in Miami, which signed an alliance with CNN Latino” (ibid).

Even though the Isaias are fugitives from the law and should be extradited by the US to Ecuador, they are allowed to continue to not only do business from the US over their Ecuadorian holdings, but they profit handsomely while buying US politicians.

In 2006 the commercial business, estate, industrial, agribusiness, oil and Media Group Isaiah yielded total revenues $103 million.  In 2007 they saw a turnover of $117 million, despite the years earlier when they reported losses through Filanbanco which left a state asset gap of $661 million. Business is good in the US for the rapacious one percent.

According to the Ecuadorian Internal Revenue Service (SRI), of the group of companies owned by the Isaias, 13 reported incomes over $1 million between 2006 and 2007.  Of these, six of the largest businesses were: TC Television, billed at $ 57 million; Industrial and Commercial Company, with $ 39 million; Gamavisión, $ 38.9 million; Petromanabí, $ 26 million; PRODUCARGO Producer Alcohols, $ 22.6 million and Emilio Isaiah Trading Company (EICA), with $ 21.5 million. In 2008, the Ecuadorian IRS, in its ranking of the 42 largest economic groups in the country, pegged the Group Isaiah (the name of their corporation) at number 32.

Until 2004 the Isaiah Group maintained its power in Ecuador, while the president and vice president of Filanbanco, Robert and William, were growing and strengthening as was their influence over politics. The fact is this growth is clearly coming from the U.S., a country that refuses to extradite them but instead, welcomes them as citizens.

The US and especially Miami, is a haven for military, banking, and drug terrorists

The US has become a haven for war criminals, economic parasites and dangerous felons.  In fact, the Isais are welcome with open arms in Miami and they know it.  There are very good reasons why.

Jeb Bush was the liaison for his father, former CIA director George Bush, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, as ‘papa Bush’ attempted to rise politically in Florida due to his presidential aspirations.  Jeb was the connection to the anti-Castro drug crowd, many of them war criminals and members of the Bay of Pigs invasion team.  Many of the anti-Castro Cubans implicitly are connected to the Miami Mafia, once headed by Santo Trafficante, one of the most powerful figures in organized crime and a leading suspect in the murder of John F. Kennedy in November of 1963.  Jeb Bush went on to become the Governor of the State of Miami while his little brother George W. picked up Texas.

Readers might remember that on November 22, 2000 a violent Republican-sanctioned mob shut down the Miami-Dade canvassing board, stopping a decisive ballot recount for President of the United States, thereby snuffing out Al Gore’s chances for victory.

This incident, which was instrumental in seizing the American presidency for George W. Bush in 2000, was not (as most media accounts suggest) merely the work of congressional aides and angry pro-Bush protestors.

In fact, the true terrorization which handed Bush the election came at the hands of hundreds of militant right-wing Cuban operatives.  It is important to note that the recount shutdown was just another chapter of an alliance between the Bush family, right-wing anti-Castro Cubans, Florida-based covert operatives and extreme elements of the Republican Party.  These ties have persisted now for nearly half a century. After the 2000 election, Fidel Castro mocked the incoming president as “the little idiot son of the former CIA director friend of mafia worms” (http://reno4governor.tripod.com/index-62.html).

Florida-based drug-running fronts also provided the US government funds which they turned into “humanitarian aid” for the murderous contras in Nicaragua.  And one cannot forget that Jeb Bush was and is a tireless supporter of reactionary Cuban-American political causes.  He lobbied for the freeing of right-wing terrorist Orlando Bosch*.  Bosch is responsible for more than 50 anti-Castro bombings in Cuba and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.

Jeb is also a supporter of CANF projects like Radio and TV Marti (propaganda broadcasts into Cuba, in violation of telecommunications laws).  And one cannot forget that Jeb Bush was also involved with Florida-based BCCI banks and scandalous money laundering operations (ibid).

Summary

The Ecuadorian government has tried for years to have the Isais brothers extradited from the US to face corruption and embezzlement charges (even though they were found guilty in absentia), but to no avail.  Yet they are, in fact, Ecuador’s equivalents of Bernie Madoff and Enron’s now deceased, Ken Lay, among other financial fraudsters.

Meanwhile, the US refuses to extradite the crime brothers.  Obama has called for all any and all countries to extradite Edward Snowden, however.  And the US has aided and abetted England in their attempts to get at Julian Assange, wanted in Sweden.  Alas,the U.S. has not returned the Isais to Ecuador to face their sentences.

In the most recent denial, the same Florida Judge who refused to seize any of the Isais’ loot, Florida John W. Thornton, ruled just last week against the extradition of the criminal brothers, claiming that Ecuadorian legal procedures represent a “deviation” from U.S. law and policy.  The hypocrisy is palpable, with a not so subtle, rank odor.

Ecuadorian Attorney General, Galo Chiriboga was more judicial in his statement that the U.S. handling of the Isaias case represents a legal double standard considering its position in the Snowden case.

According to Chiriboga:

“Snowden hasn’t even been convicted and we have very little information about the crimes he is accused of. Meanwhile the Isaias brothers live a life of luxury in Miami, thanks to the stolen deposits of Ecuadorians” (http://www.cuencahighlife.com/post/2013/07/05/Snowden-asylum-case-brings-up-the-case-of-Ecuadors-Isaias-brothers3b-Ecuador-claims-that-the-US-uses-a-legal-double-standard.aspx).

* Orlando Bosch conspired in the bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976, killing all passengers and crew.  In October of 2009, newly-elected president, George W. Bush (brother of then Governor, Jeb Bush a good friend of the anti-Castro Cubans pardoned Bosch (http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1999/10/corr-o26.html).