Robert Vesco sentenced to 13 years in Cuba
- (Here's some background on Robert Vesco.
Since so few of the corporate crooks we've
heard of recently in the United States have
experienced matching bracelets composed
of stainless steel recently, one wonders why
the US media hasn't expressed any current
interest in one who has...)
Fugitive American Financier Vesco
Gets 13-Year Sentence in Cuba
The Washington Post
American financier Robert Vesco, one of the most wanted U.S.
fugitives, was sentenced to 13 years in a Cuban prison
Monday for economic crimes against the government of Fidel
The announcement was made by the official Cuban media in
Havana. Vesco's Cuban wife, Lidia Alfonsa Llauger, was
sentenced to nine years in prison for helping Vesco. She is
being held at the maximum security Villa Marista prison.
Vesco, 60, who could have received a 20-year sentence, spent
years on the run from U.S. authorities before settling in
Cuba in 1983, where he lived regally until running afoul of
the Castro government in recent years.
Wanted in the United States on charges of stealing $224
million from a mutual fund, Vesco also has been indicted on
drug-trafficking charges. He settled first in Costa Rica,
then Nicaragua and the Bahamas before landing in Cuba -
which has repeatedly refused U.S. extradition requests.
The case against Vesco in Cuba centered on a scheme to
develop and market a miracle drug, known as TX, that is
supposed to be a cure for cancer, AIDS and the common cold.
When he was arrested in May 1995, Vesco was charged with
trying to develop and market the drug behind the backs of
Cuban officials. There is no known scientific evidence to
back up the claims of TX's healing powers.
During his detention, Vesco denied he was a U.S. citizen,
saying he had taken out Italian citizenship instead. He
refused U.S. consular visits but did see Italian diplomats.
(the precise date in 1996 of this article wasn't given
at the source below.)
Los Angeles Times
July 6, 1995
Sarah Klein; Times Staff Writer
IRVINE -- The late President Richard Nixon's nephew Donald
Nixon Jr., who was held under house arrest in Havana while
Cuban officials investigated his ties to fugitive financier
Robert Vesco, said Wednesday he believes that authorities
might have been after a "miracle drug" that he and Vesco
Nixon, 49, said he had been working through Vesco with the
Cuban government for three years to test a spinoff of the
controversial anti-AIDS drug Viroxan, a citronella-based
substance that he believes cured his wife of breast cancer
and arthritis. Nixon was detained for 30 days in a Havana
hotel room. Although Cuban authorities did not arrest him,
they did not give him permission to leave until Sunday.
At a press conference at his attorney's office in Irvine,
Nixon said he was detained on May 31, the same day that
Vesco was arrested on charges of being a foreign agent.
Nixon had been a guest in Vesco's Havana home and was in a
venture with Vesco to develop an "immune adjuvant" drug to
combat AIDS and other illnesses.
"After three years of creating the basic elements for
double-blind clinical trials in humans in six countries, as
well as completion of Cuba's research, [Cuban laboratories]
were able to produce the product at relatively low cost,"
Nixon said in a prepared statement. "However, interestingly
enough, two weeks after the purest material was produced,
the people from counterintelligence came into Vesco's home
and immediately took him away."
Nixon said he doesn't believe that Vesco was a foreign
agent. Vesco "had nowhere to go," Nixon said. "There was no
reason for him to break the law."
Nixon's theory is one of the first set forth outside of Cuba
to explain why the Cuban government would arrest the
59-year-old Vesco after allowing him to live in the country
for 12 years. Vesco fled the United States for Costa Rica in
1972 after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged
that Vesco had diverted more than $220 million from four
Local experts disagree that the anti-AIDS drug could be, as
Nixon puts it, "a medical breakthrough." "I am open-minded,"
said Dr. Donald Forthal, an infectious diseases expert and
assistant professor of medicine at UCI, "but am skeptical
about this." Forthal, who does research on viruses such as
HIV and measles, said he thought a citrus-derivative might
help some conditions, but it would not have a significant
impact. "High doses of vitamin C don't have much of an
effect on a common cold," Forthal said.
The drug's predecessor, Viroxan, was widely criticized after
its inventor, an Orange County physician, administered the
drug to AIDS patients. Although touted as a cure, the
homemade substance hastened the deaths of at least two
AIDS patients, according to state medical officials. The
physician, Stephen Herman, agreed to surrender his medical
license in 1991 after state prosecutors agreed to drop civil
charges of gross negligence, incompetence, dishonesty and
other offenses, according to his attorney.
Viroxan was also the subject of the first AIDS medical fraud
case to come trial in the United States. A Los Angeles
Superior Court jury ordered two doctors and a hospital that
used the drug to pay five patients a total of $2.7 million
last July. Herman was dropped from the lawsuit when he filed
for bankruptcy, but continued to pursue the development of
the drug with Nixon's help.
Herman told The Times in 1992 that the younger Nixon had
helped him negotiate a marketing agreement with China for
Nixon dismissed the controversy about Viroxan, saying it was
created by the media. When told the complaints came from
state medical investigators, he said: "All that's been
thrown out" because his new drug had been altered by "a
Nixon said it would cost $300 million to test the drug in
the United States. He said when the Clinton Administration
and federal officials expressed no interest in the drug, he
formed a venture with Vesco and partners from Colombia,
Mexico, Switzerland and Italy. Nixon said the drug has been
tested in Colombia, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Mexico and
Cuba. He also said his wife had taken the drug for six
years, ever since chemotherapy for breast cancer left her
Nixon said little about his relationship with Vesco at the
news conference. He said he lived with Vesco for five years
in the early 1970s. Nixon subsequently married and his
family moved to Tustin. He said hadn't spoken to Vesco for
14 years until he needed help testing the drug, which he
Nixon said he has not seen or heard from Vesco since the
financier's arrest. As for the drug, he said, "At this time,
the project to my knowledge has stopped and I have no
knowledge that the Cubans will continue." GRAPHIC: PHOTO:
COLOR, Donald Nixon Jr.
This appears at the CANF website:
Robert Vesco: In 1972, the wealthy financier fled the United
States to avoid numerous racketeering charges. He lived in
several countries until finding his way to Cuba in 1982.
Once in Cuba, U.S. officials have indicated that Vesco
enjoyed the personal protection of Fidel Castro; under his
patronage, Vesco became the high financier of several of the
region's dictators and the island's criminal elite. For
these activities, he was indicted by a U.S. grand jury in
1984 for cocaine trafficking and, in 1989, for conspiring
with the leader of a Colombian drug ring to smuggle
narcotics. In 1995, Vesco fell out of favor with his Cuban
hosts after he was accused of trying to market behind their
backs his own a new "miracle" drug against cancer and
arthritis. The U.S. government has issued repeated requests
for his return to face justice.