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A purely analytical perception...


BAHAMAS

Continued from page 9

Although Walsh and Felderhof participated in one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated on humanity, an even more public occurred some years earlier. Two decades earlier Robert Vesco captured the world's attention when he took over and then looted the Canadian based mutual fund giant, Investors Overseas Services Ltd. The mere theft of this very substantial amount of money might not have caused international opprobrium, but Vesco also got himself involved with ex-American President Richard Nixon, drug dealing, an occasional disappearance, and all sorts of other unworldly occurrences.

Once having looted IOS, Vesco deposited his money in a Panamanian bank account, made a hasty retreat to the Bahamas, transferred his money from Panama, and spread it around like butter to those of importance in the Pindling Administration. He was always accompanied by his yacht, which appeared to take up most of Nassau Harbor, and his 707 plane, which was equipped with a mini-gym, sauna, executive dining room, and a discotheque with a hardwood dance floor and strobe lights. Vesco completed the image of the swinging jet-setter by traveling in velour loungewear. There was always a pilot near the plane in case Vesco needed a fast exit. In 1983 he pulled up stakes and headed for Cuba. The judgments against him had cascaded over the billion-dollar mark, and Justice Department Officials in the United States were making noises about bringing him to trial at any cost. Cuba seemed to be the only place in the hemisphere that could offer him refuge.

Vesco was not having a good time, though. He had to make sure that his payments to his keepers in the Bahamas and Costa Rica were kept current. New governments created situations where Vesco who need to schemer a different set of officials and whenever the United States or Canada turned up the heat more money was extorted from him. He was always surrounded by guards and was in constant fear for his life. In 1991, this fear caused the suicide of his former partner LeBlanc, a Montreal-born accountant. As a McGill University student, LeBlanc won the Governor General's Award for the highest accounting grades in Canada. He had single-handedly funded the IOS takeover. In the meantime, whether Vesco's money was running out or whether he was just getting bored, he started smuggling cocaine with the Medellin Drug Cartel for which he was indicted in Jacksonville, Florida in 1989.

Although Vesco is the first person ever offered haven in the Bahamas to find the climate getting to hot, it was probably his high-profile drug dealing that caused the Bahamian Government to hand him his walking papers. The Bahamas had a good thing going in the drug market, and they just weren't being paid enough by Vesco to get a rash of bad publicity that could screw thing up. We have taken the liberty of including testimony taken from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration on the subject before a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control on June 22, 1998 entitled "The Lure of the Bahamas",

"The Bahama Islands Chain, which lies northwest of the island of Hispaniola and just northeast of Cuba, has been a center for smuggling contraband for centuries. During the heyday of the Medellin Cartel, Carlos Lehder bought an entire island, Norman’s Cay, where he flew planes laden with hundreds of kilograms of cocaine to stage for entry into the United States.

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