In the 1990s, Roberto Isaias served as the President of Filanbanco in Quito, Ecuador. His brother William was the Vice President of the bank which was at the center of the financial collapse that rocked the South American country. Filanbanco was one of 30 banks that collapsed between 1998-99. The financial disaster ended up costing the Ecuadorian taxpayers over $8 billion.
When the Ecuadorian government began investigating what happened, they discovered that the Isaias brothers falsified the financial statements for Filanbanco in 1998. Before they could be arrested, Roberto and William left Ecuador and came to the US in 2000.
The Ecuadorian National Court tried the brothers in absentia and found them guilty not only of falsifying the banks records but also of embezzlement. The brothers were sentenced to 8 years in prison.
In the meantime the brothers had set up shop here in the US. One of their accomplishments was to help funnel thousands of dollars from family members into the campaign coffers of Barack Obama and over a dozen members of Congress. In fact, Isaias family donated $90,000 to Obama’s re-election campaign.
Now the Ecuadorian government has been filing for extradition of the brothers, but the US government has refused. Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador told the media:
“The Isaias brothers fled to Miami not to live off their work, something just, but to buy themselves more mansions and Rolls-Royces and to finance American political campaigns. That’s what has given them protection.”
The Obama administration claims that the donations have nothing to do with the refusal of extradition. Some believe that the refusal is due to the fact that the Ecuadorian Embassy in London has given shelter to WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. Additionally the Ecuadorian government has offered asylum to Edward Snowden.
However, some political analysts have suggested that perhaps Democratic fund raisers specifically targeted the Isaias brothers for campaign donations, knowing that they were in trouble with the Ecuadorian government. Perhaps the brothers would be more willing to give a large sum thinking that it would help get them some protection by the Obama administration. I would not be surprised if they were promised protection, although you’ll never get anyone to admit to it.
Ken Boehm, Chairman of the National Legal Policy Center commented:
“There is a certain mercenary aura on the Hill when it comes to overlap of fund-raising from wealthy individuals with problems. The key elements are all there: They are wealthy and have problems that are solved by the discretionary judgment of someone in the administration. They have tons of money and are willing to write checks all over the place.”
Roberto Isaias responded to the accusations, saying:
“My family has given to about 20 congressmen who fight for human rights and freedom of speech in Latin America. That’s legal. If it looks good or bad, the thing I can tell you is that we have never asked for a favor in the case of me or my brother William.”
Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the White House issued a statement on the matter, saying:
“The Departments of Justice and State evaluate extradition requests to ensure they meet the terms of the applicable treaty and all requisite legal standards. These decisions are made on the merits by legal experts at the departments without regard for political contributions.”
If that’s the case, then how can they justify the denial to extradite after the Ecuadorian courts had sufficient evidence to show that the brothers were guilty of falsification of bank records and embezzlement which led to the financial meltdown in their country?
Obama has a well-documented track record of granting favors to large donors to his campaigns. Last month I shared how 5 people who donated $500,000 or more were nominated to an ambassadorship by President Obama. One of his ambassadors produced the television soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. She had no political experience, but bought her position as Ambassador to Hungary after donating $800,000 to the Obama campaign.
If $500,000 can buy an ambassadorship, then it’s not out of the question for $90,000 to buy safety from extradition. At least that’s my conclusion; you can draw your own.