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Cuba thaw could bring answers to mystery of fugitive financier

Cuba thaw could bring answers to mystery of fugitive financier
By Perry ChiaramontePublished August 17, 2015 FoxNews.com

Restored relations between the U.S. and Cuba could help investigators
find hundreds of millions of dollars embezzled more than 40 years ago by
a high-flying fugitive, but they acknowledge it is more likely Robert
Vesco took his secrets to the grave.

Vesco was a 35-year-old Wall Street whiz when he mounted a takeover of
mutual fund firm, Investors Overseas Service,which had $1.5
billion in investors’ money. Three years later, Vesco left America for
good aboard a private jet with an estimated $220 million, as the
Securities and Exchange Commission closed in on him for allegedly hiding
his clients’ money in foreign accounts. Rumored contributions to
Nixon’s re-election campaign, possibly in the hopes of staving
off the SEC probe, proved to be no help as Vesco settled in Costa Rica.

“He would go to a country with weak extradition laws like Colombia or
Costa Rica and once the laws would change he would go to another country
until his only option was Cuba,” said Ed Butowsky, whose father, David
Butowsky, was chief enforcement officer for the SEC when he began
hunting Vesco in 1973.

“We know one thing, that money is still in Cuba if it was being kept
anywhere else, it would have already made its way back to the U.S.”

– Ed Butowsky

In 1982, Vesco moved to Havana, where his money was good and he was safe
from U.S. authorities. Butowsky, in his government role and then later
as an attorney for a private firm hired to recoup the stolen loot, knew
where Vesco was but that brought him no closer to the money.

The elder Butowsky is no longer alive, but Ted Altman, an attorney who
worked with him recalled interviewing the mustachioed embezzler on
multiple occasions.

“We met with him a few times, first in Costa Rica, then in the Bahamas,”
Altman said. “We asked about what he did with the money and he answered
every question but without an ounce of truth.”

Vesco was by Cuban authorities in 1995 for being “under
suspicion of being a provocateur and an agent of foreign special
services” and charged with fraud. He served a 10-year sentence, then
resumed a quiet life in Havana, according to The New York Times. A chain
smoker, he reportedly died in 2007. But even his death was reported with
skepticism worthy of a wily con artist who had spent decades eluding
authorities.

“If so, it was never reported publicly by the Cuban authorities, who
said Friday that they considered him a “non-issue,” read a May 3, 2008
article in the New York Times written some five months after Vesco’s
alleged death and entitled “A Last Vanishing Act for Robert Vesco,
Fugitive.”

Ed Butowsky believes that new diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba
– Secretary of State John Kerry opened an American embassy in Havana
last week – should allow authorities to find the millions his father
once hunted.

“It should be an open case,” Butowsky said. “We know one thing, that
money is still in Cuba if it was being kept anywhere else, it would have
already made its way back to the U.S.”

But Altman doubts that Vesco’s money ever wound up in Cuba.

“I could only speculate with what I know about Vesco,” he said. “But the
bulk of that money would be in a much more secure location than Cuba.”

“More than likely, it would be in accounts in Europe, if anywhere at all.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter
at @perrych

Source: Cuba thaw could bring answers to mystery of fugitive financier |
Fox News –
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/08/17/cuba-thaw-could-bring-answers-to-mystery-fugitive-financier/

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