A Miraculous Catch
A Miraculous Catch
The 500 billion pesos in taxes (about $250 million dollars) paid by Colombians in a few weeks disappeared under the gaze of the bank superintendent, Sara Ordonez, a woman with the voice and intonation of a child and face of an older woman, and the watchful eyes of Dr. Fanny Kertzmann Yankelevich, director of taxes and customs, that woman with thick hair who poses in magazines with two dogs to terrorize ratepayers. They share the same stance, the same arrogance, the same ideas, as the leaders of 1946, promoters of the torrent of blood that drowns us today.
She said on television that her agents would penetrate into homes and bring back every electronic apparatus without an import permit.
A mixer in a kitchen somewhere lacks import registration and is at risk. Meanwhile, the ports are saturated with ships, loaded with contraband weapons, contraband cigarettes, contraband whiskey, planes loaded with contraband televisions and electronics, and the highways are full of trucks loaded up with contraband gasoline.
Tough on the weak, and weak on the tough.
When Dr. Kertzmann Yankelevich decided for a multinational paper company and announced publicly that she would add taxes on books, school textbooks, and student notebooks, commentator Isidro Rodriguez wrote in El Faro:
'She's just publicly stated that to her, a book is the same as a kilogram of potatoes'.
Maria Mercedes Carranza wrote in La Semana:
'It's obvious that Ms. Kertzmann doesn't distinguish between a book and a chicken, because she refers to the editorial industry as if they were vendors of poultry and ignores what magazines represent for the country, or books for the schools. As a result, when she talks about books she uses arguments that represent a kind of mental underdevelopment that has left the country in a state of economic underdevelopment.'
Yes, potatoes equal books and chicken soup equals textbooks, eventually. But nine months before billions of pesos of Colombian taxpayers disappeared before her eyes, official voices had warned her insistently:
-The people who pay taxes are going to lose millions upon millions of pesos and you continue to allow money to be deposited into a pair of collapsing banks. All of this money is going to be lost in the Banco del Pacifico and the Banco Andino.
And it was lost thanks to one of the best-organized 'miracle catches' in the history of the Colombian state.
The Banco del Pacifico and the Banco Andino were made up of Americans, Ecuadorians, and Colombians. The president of the Banco Pacifico was appointed Ambassador of Colombia to Washington. The manager of the US firm that controlled the bank became Minister of National Defense. One of the members of the firm that controlled the bank rose to the station of the Commissioner for Peace to the President of the Republic. Another became Private Secretary to the President of the Republic.
The superintendent of banks, charged by the President of the Republic with controlling the Banco del Pacifico and the Banco Andino was the member of one of the boards of the Banco Andino.
When the country learned that in the two banks, 500 billion pesos of its own taxes had disappeared, someone suggested an old Colombian story to the director of taxes and customs and the Bank Superintendent: that there had been elephants in their offices, and they were the only ones who didn't notice.
In Colombia, though, the law works upside down: high functionaries of government fall upwards as a result of these acts. Hence, the lady with the voice and manner of a child became the Minister of Health, and the woman with the thick hair and the dogs became the Ambassador to Canada.
This story-that still hasn't ended-starts with the Banco del Pacifico and the Banco Andino collected part of the country's tax revenues. An agreement with the government stated that they could hold on to these resources for twenty days, at the end of which they would return them to the National Treasury.
It didn't end up that way and the big business-for the banks, in the end-ended on May 20, 1999 in row that the press was quick to silence.
But the business ended late, very late for the country, because nine months before, in September, October, and November of 1998, Gloria Ines Cortes Arango, director of the National Treasury, showed that there were differences in the banks' deposits with the Colombian state-a symptom that something was wrong with the finances. The Home Minister, Juan Camilo Restrepo, the banking superintendent Sara Ordonez, and the director of taxes and customs were all informed. They all knew early, but they did not act as they should have, according to documents in at least three of the four files of investigations-one of the prosecutor general, another disciplinary, another political and the last criminal-still open, but forgotten.
In October 1998-6 months before the banks made their miraculous catch-in an internal report of the Bank Superintendency called 'Document No. 8', on inspection, diagnostics, and projections of the Bank, the signature of A. Juan and Associates told Dr. Sara Ordonez:
"The situation of the bank in terms of the patrimony and of results is very serious"
In an internal report of the Comptroller, (August 17, 2001), one analyst told the Comptroller-General:
"Despite the warnings about the delicate situation of the bank, the director of taxes and customs, Fanny Kertzman, has done the opposite of what is necessary to consign the Andean Bank".
But as if that weren't enough, "Dr. Fanny Kertzman expressed to the directorship of the Andean Bank her lack of concern about the delay in the consignment of the collections, by which taxes and customs was benefiting from interest. And, besides, she said that "it was a problem of the National Treasury", according to the statement before the Prosecutor General of Gregorio Alfredo Obregon Rubiano, president of the directorship, and Mario Yepez Lopez, the Vice President of Finance of the Banco Andino.
After the miraculous catch, the Comptroller's office noted in its preliminary investigation: "The bank, in the process of liquidation, warned that it would not honor any deposits, without exception." That was the deal. And it was the already empty wallets of Colombians that had to pay for this as well.
In December 1998, the Comptroller-General of the Republic prepared a report for Home Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo and the chief of national taxes saying the same thing that the comptroller had been saying for the previous four months to the director of the treasury: you are allowing these two banks to collect public funds, but they are showing a clear insolvency at this time. Change this situation.
Investigators say the Comptroller recognized that in both banks there was a lack of liquidity and that such solvency as existed came from the funds of Colombian taxpayers. That suspicion was confirmed by them two years later, on August 17 2001, when an internal memo to the comptroller that said: "The Pacific Bank has had problems of liquidity since at least 1998, and for that reason sought the collection of public funds from national taxes and customs duties as a solution."
A new warning bell was heard on January 12, 1999 when the director of the National Treasury once again demanded that the banks return all they owed to the treasury.
On March 17 the director of the National Treasury asked the banks for an explanation of their failure to turn the tax funds over to the state, and as always, sent copies of the memo to both the banking superintendent (Sara Ordonez) and the director of taxes and customs (Fanny Kertzman). That same day the director of the National Treasury asked the same functionaries to cancel the banks' permissions to collect taxes and receive income statements.
Some days later, that same March, the treasury once again complained of the non-compliance of the banks and accused them of a 'serious oversight'. The Minister and the Drs. Sara Ordonez and Fanny Kertzman were told that it was necessary now to cancel the business of the banks.
The response from the Minister and the Drs. was silence.
April 15: another complaint from the National Treasury to the banks, and as was now becoming normal, and indeed 'tiring' as they say in Antioquia, the information was also given to Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo, Dr. Kertzman, and Dr. Sara Ordonez.
May 10: The director of the treasury complains to the banks and appeals again to Juan Camilo Restrepo that he is the only one who can put an end to the deal with the banks. Dr. Kertzman Yankelevich was informed, again, that it would be fatal for the state if the banks continued to have authorization to collect taxes and receive income statements, repeating that rigorous means would have to be adopted on behalf of Colombian taxpayers. Dr. Sara Ordonez was notified yet again of the elephant that had spent three trimesters incubating within her office, but she continued without noticing.
None of the three took any of these rigorous means. According to documents in the hands of the Comptroller General of the Republic, they limited their activity to sending letters to the banks asking them what was happening.
Three days before the Minister and the Drs. were forced to cut the banks off, something still more surprising happened: the deposits shot up in an unusual form.
According to an analysis of the Comptroller General of the Republic, until then the average capture rate of taxes had been 'normal', but as soon as the upper levels of government learned that there was going to be an intervention in the banks, this average shot from 2 billion to 25 billion pesos per day.
The official documents suggested that in the Banco Pacifico alone, on May 17, 57 billion pesos were captured-a sum greater than that of any bank.
On May 18-19, 11 billion.
On May 20, when the banking superintendent proffered an administrative act to intervene, the Pacifico took in 33 billion.
According to another report of the Comptroller, between the cancellation of the deal allowing the collection of taxes by the banks and the intervention of the banking superintendent, two days passed. 'That delay of Dr. Sara Ordonez cost the country 44 billion pesos in Pacific Bank alone', said one of the investigators.
That same document notes something else about this miraculous catch.
'The directors of the Banco del Pacifico and the Banco Andino knew from May 17, 3 days before the intervention, that as early as the next day they could be informed of the resolution on the suspension of the deal with the government on tax collections, because Dr. Fanny Kertzman warned them.'
In those four days-says the same analysis-the collection of taxes in the Banco Pacifico alone grew 700% relative to the earlier period. The capture in the previous March, April, and May would have been 23 billion pesos. Now it was 217 billion.
'An obvious, open, and strange phenomenon', said one of the investigators of the Comptroller and asked: 'but, on the other hand, who in the government, informed about the imminent intervention against the two banks, told the state enterprises and organs to deposit their tax revenues to those banks en masse? Someone from the highest levels of government had to have done so. The question is, who? This will be critical material in the criminal investigation.'
Investigators of the Comptroller established that 'on the day of the intervention (May 20, 1999), in the Banco Andino alone there were 112 billion pesos worth of tax and customs revenues of the Colombian state.
That day, the Colombian peso was trading at 1600 to the US dollar.
Once that artery was cauterized, the tax money could no longer be recovered, as it would be liquidated with the rest of the bank.
In previous investigations those responsible appeared to be Home Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo and Dr. Fanny Kertzman, but in an analysis prepared 3 months later, August 17 2001, the Comptroller General of the Republic noted: "For a year before the intervention, the banking superintendent knew of the lack of liquidity of the Pacifico and Andino Banks, who were surviving on tax and customs revenues from the Colombian government."
The Banco Pacifico was from Ecuador, but the real power in it was called WestSphere, a US firm that is now known to be the epicenter of the disappearance of the tax funds. No one from WestSphere has been called to respond formally. The criminal justice system has not declared anyone responsible. No one has been punished. Today Colombians continue to suffer the consequences of this miraculous catch and are facing a threat of losing still more billions. But those who need to act are silent.
The curtain on this comedy was uncovered in 2001 when a Florida judge refused the Colombian state's bid to recover more than $100 million USD worth of its tax funds. Today the sum lost is about 300 billion pesos in the Banco Pacifico alone. That is the cost of a full general hospital in a country with millions of poor people who face dying in the street.
By way of the chief of taxes and revenues, Fanny Kertzman, the state advanced $2.5 million USD to the Miami law firm White and Chase, to sue the Banco Andino. Only the Banco Andino, not the Pacifico, despite the fact that tax funds had been lost in both banks.
According to investigator Consuelo Ahumada in her book 'Cuatro anos a bordo de mi mismo' (Four years on-board of myself), 'In a decision without precedent in the country's history, the functionary traveled to Miami in September 1999 and contracted a prestigious law firmâ€¦ Kertzman advanced them $2.5 million dollars of the lawyers' $5 million feeâ€¦ finally, and most ironically, Nicolas Landes, director of the bank and self-exile in Miami, countersued Colombia for $100 million dollars, alleging that his honour and good name had been affected due to the judicial actions against him.' In November 2002 the court denied his suit.
The 'Andean Operation' had cost Colombians-only in its last chapter-7 billion pesos as of January 2003-one thousand schools for one thousand students each, one million people rescued from ignorance in a country where ignorance is fatal.
At the end of 2002 the state lost the case before the Atlanta Court of Appeals for lack of proof. The Banco Andino had disappeared 210 billion, in today's pesos.
Why: the Banco Andino had no branch in the US, nor was it possible to show that one dollar of that country's coffers was involved in the problem of the bank.
The bank that could have been sued by the Colombian state in Miami was the Banco Pacifico, which benefited from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) by way of WestSphere funds that had captured, among others, $100 million from the Clinton government.
OPIC is a public federal agency that helps US companies invest in developing countries. And more, WestSphere was a member of the bank and representative of a US pension fund; the Pacific had a branch there where it held US savings and from this branch loans had been advanced to firms in WestSphere, a US organization.
The law firm White and Chase was also representing WestSphere.
Based on reports in the local US press, members of congress Gustavo Petro and Hernando Carvalho promoted a debate in the congress. They showed proof of the facts at the heart of the controversy without revealing who was responsible for operations in the Cayman Islands banking system, known in the world as a financial haven.
These documents, texts of debate published in the official newspaper, the documentation produced by the Comptroller General, and official recordings of congress, form the basis for this chapter.
'At the time of the debate, Juan Camilo Restrepo was in France, acting as Colombian Ambassador, after having put into motion the most drastic cascade of taxes in history to date', said Consuelo Ahumada in her book.
From official recordings and transcripts:
The history of the Banco Pacifico in its final years-- says Congress member Petro on the 3rd commission of the house-- begins with the death of the founder when some pension funds from the northern hemisphere, especially the US and Germany, began to find their way to Latin America. At that time the Banco Pacifico became a representative of WestSphere, a US fund.
In exchange for investing in Latin America, that organization received money from the US budget by way of a public agency, OPIC, that guarantees investments.
One of the branches of WestSphere in Latin America from its inception was intended to be Colombia, and some of its members are:
Jacob Bibliowicz, an important financier of former president Andres Pastrana's campaign.
Dr. Luis Alberto Moreno, a Colombian-US citizen who was later sent to Washington as ambassador of Colombia and ratified in this position four years later by the Uribe Velez government. Dr. Moreno was born in Philadelphia. He graduated in business and economics from the University of Florida in 1975, and in International Management from Thunderbird in 1977. He was a minority partner in Andean WestSphere-a $230 million dollar funds, proven by documents shown by members of congress despite his vocal and adamant denials.
Dr. Luis Fernando Ramirez, distinguished with the post of Minister of National Defense. At the time of his appointment to the ministry, he was in the post of manager of WestSphere-Colombia and member of the Banco Pacifico. But so that no one would doubt his honour, he quit these posts before taking up the important task of strategy for the national defense of the country.
Dr. Camilo Gomez, the government's High Commissioner for Peace.
Dr. Gabriel Mesa, member of the directorship of WestSphere, private secretary to president Pastrana.
The owner of the office they occupied as WestSphere (Carrera Septima no. 71-21, office 702, Bogota), was that of Dr. Sara Ordonez, who president Pastrana named banking superintendent. Her function was to monitor the banks that operated in the country.
Dr. Sara Ordonez was member of the Banco Andino, and also treasurer of the campaign of Home Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo as pre-candidate for the presidency of the republic in 1998. Two totally compatible posts. Not at all abnormal. Dr. Juan Camilo Restrepo received financial support from the Banco Andino for his campaign. Not at all abnormal.
Later, Francisco Estupinan-- one of the directors of the Banco Andino-- was named Deputy Home Minster by Minister Restrepo. As a complement, Dr. Sara Ordonez made him part of the Council of advisors of the banking superintendent who, as we have noted, was in charge of controlling the Andino and Pacifico Banks.
Salomon Kassin Tesone, investment banker, 52 years old, was member of Andean Capital Markets, the investment fund of the Banco Andino. In charge of monitoring his work was Dr. Sara Ordonez. But Dr. Sara Ordonez was, along with Mr. Tesone, a member of a public relations firm called Sanchiz and Associates.
The exact location of this enterprise is unknown because on April 20, 1988, when the incorporation document 1485 was signed at notary 35 in Bogota, its members did not specify an address for it. Nor did they do so on June 17 in the Chamber of Commerce, when they were registered under number 638406 of book 9. According to this document, the directorship of the firm consisted of Jose Luis Sanchiz, Salomon Kassin Tesone, and Rodrigo Puyo Vasco. The first substitute was Dr. Sara Ordonez, Cedula de Ciudadania 41-375.590.
In 1997 the ex-Home Minister Juan Manuel Santos denounced Kassin Tesone in his column in the national newspaper El Tiempo, accusing him of having used proxies to get TermoCartagena in the hands of Electric City Fund Inc.
Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz was a long-time client of the Banco Pacifico who had received small loans for numerous small enterprises that he had formed, the majority of which had branches in financial havens. But he never paid the loans back. He was ever-more endebted to the bank.
According to the archives, on December 4 1998 he owed the bank 2.458 million pesos, a sum that was cancelled 3 months later with collateral from another loan, of 2.2 million. He also took out a travel loan of 1610 million pesos.
In the middle of that business of digging one hole to fill another, someone catapulted him to the directorship of the Banco Pacifico-Colombia. He was later also named to the directorship of the Banco Pacifico -Ecuador.
WestSphere Colombia became Andean WestSphere and cast its shadow over the whole region.
With Bibliowicz on the Banco Pacifico -Ecuador's directorship, WestSphere purchased a 10% share in the Bank's Ecuadorian activities. The US pension fund thus won administrative control of the bank. The next step for WestSphere was making Dr. Luis Alberto Moreno the president of the directorship of the Banco Pacifico-Ecuador.
From that position, Dr. Moreno signed a contract that wasn't registered in state accounts (for which there is now a criminal suit underway in Ecuador). It was a contract guaranteeing that the bank would be responsible for any loss of the patrimony that occurred in any of its branches, including Colombia. According to the law, that document, dealing with a contingent account, should have been registered on the books. But it was not done.
But why did WestSphere want to control the Banco Pacifico at all? The answer is simply: by controlling the banco Pacifico, WestSphere would also control its branches: its Colombian branch, its Panamanian branchâ€¦ and its Miami Branch.
In Miami, Dr. Ricardo Moreno-brother of the ambassador in Washington, Luis Alberto Moreno-was the Vice President of Finance of the Pacific National Bank until the bank disappeared with billions of pesos of Colombian taxpayers' money.
According to the Miami New Herald and Bogota's El Tiempo of June 25, 2001, the Banco Andino was sacked by Nicolas Landes in accord with the lawsuit presented by the Colombian state. That Ecuadorian banker affirmed during his defense that in 1994 Dr. Luis Alberto Moreno visited his luxurious Miami mansion several times, in the company of Dr. Andres Pastrana, whose government did not file suit against the Banco Pacifico in Miami.
He also confirmed that some of the members of WestSphere, the firm that controlled the Banco Pacifico, were visited by President Andres Pastrana in the 'Casa de Huespedes Ilustres' in Cartagena.
But speaking of the business interests of the friends of the president Pastrana, in the Third Commission of the House-- a fifth-floor room occupied by members of Congress, journalists, two chambers full of people, live television cameras, radio station microphones-Congress member Petro was asked: 'What have Luis Alberto Moreno and Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz done?'
'In my opinion', he responded, 'and according to our investigation, they were in charge of making loans from WestSphere to WestSphere, on the scale of Latin America.'
'It is important to remember', he added, 'that the Banco Pacifico, at the moment of its collapse, was under the control of friends of Andres Pastrana, especially Bibliowicz'.
According to El Espectador on August 26 2001 and El Tiempo on June 16 2002, these friends had links to a company called Luminex, whose list of owners included Bibliowicz, Dr. Fernando Londono Hoyos (fired from his post as Minister of Justice and Minister of the Interior by incoming president Uribe Velez), ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno, and Dr. Marta Lucia Ramirez (who was also affected by the law in which elites fall upwards, named by Pastrana as Minister of Development, sent to Paris as ambassador, and finally made Minister of National Defense under Uribe Velez).
On September 13 1994, by way of memo 188 of the banking superintendency, Mr. Jacobo Bibliowicz filed application VJ 56179 to have his membership in the directorship of the Banco Pacifico evaluated. To this memo, he added a letter on a Luminex company letterhead dated August 5 1994, directed to Juan Carlos Bernal Romano of the Banco Pacifico, in which he expressed his acceptance of the designation of Fernando Londono Hoyos to the directorship of the Banco Pacifico -Colombia.
Bibliowicz presented as personal and commercial references:
Dr. Fernando Londono Hoyos, Calle 96 No. 9-46, telephone 256 15 11
Dr. Marta Lucia Ramirez, Calle 69 No. 4-65, telephone 310 01 31
Dr. Luis Alberto Moreno, Transversal 27 No. 39-71, telephone 269 65 13
To denounce the Banco Pacifico in Miami was to have to put the Colombian Ambassador in Washington before the US judicial system, if only least as a witness. Petro later said that the Pastrana government did not do what had to be done to make this happen.
'In our investigation,' he continued, 'we focused primarily on the Banco Pacifico-Colombia, but if you did an analysis on the conjunction of the banks-and ours was incomplete-you would find that five million dollars went from the Pacifico -Ecuador into businesses where WestSphere had investments. In Argentina, for example. There are documents with names, dates, detailsâ€¦
'From Panama, several million dollars left, ending up in WestSphere businesses in various locations and people in Latin America, including Mr. Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz Volovitz.
'From the Banco Pacifico-Colombia, which we looked at in detail, came loans from enterprises owned by Mr. Bibliowicz in various forms, as well as from businesses of the Lloreda group, friends of the president of the republic. Two of them have been state ministers.
'From Miami came about forty million dollars, a significant amount of money, for WestSphere businesses in Colombia, which were essentially those of Mr. Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz, which he sold to WestSphere. These are mostly flower businesses located in Madrid, not far from Bogota. These were the largest investments we found and therefore followed, but when we went to the locations indicated in the documents, we found nothing. There were some tents and workers who weren't paid. We didn't see any physical evidence of business. These enterprises of Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz were, in this case, paper businesses, by which he was able to make loans to himself and to other members of the WestSphere directorship, like Mr. Valdapalas and two gentlemen with the name Bohorquez.
'During our investigation we also discovered not only inflows but also outflows of dollars to accounts in the Cayman Islands.
'These were part of the supposed flower-enterprises', Petro said, reading part of the documents he had in his possession, now classified in the House of Representatives' archives.
They were enterprises that were created between 1996-1997 and within three years were in the process of liquidation, but they borrowed large amounts for labour costs that were never paid to workers.
Polo Flowers was created on July 30 1991. The directorshop was headed by Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz. Other companies in the same situation:
Agricola Los Arboles
Maxima Farm Ecuador
Maxima Farm S.A.
Maxima Farm Inc.
Maxima Floral Traders S.A.
Maxima Berris S.A.
CI Maxima Floral Traders S.A.
The weekly, Nota Economica, of June 7-21 1999:
'The new Minister of National Defense, Luis Fernando Ramirez, worked in the Colombian Financial Corporation during Sara Ordonez's term as banking superintendent. After graduating from the Centre for International Studies at Harvard University, he returned to the country to create, with Luis Alberto Moreno, the investment fund of WestSphere-Andean region, which specialized in procuring resources for projects in the cut flower industry'.
In Canada, ambassador Fanny Kertzman announced in mid-2002 the start of a tireless campaign to fight against the bad press about Colombia.
After our investigation, what do we believe WestSphere wanted when it took control of the Banco Pacifico? To milk it. First, it obtained loans that it never paid back (they were paid by Colombian taxpayers instead). Next, the money from the fictitious businesses ended up in the Cayman Islands. The final destination of that money is unknown, because the Colombian authorities haven't looked into it.
So, now what happens in Colombia? Colombia is living one part of the Cayman Island episode. Which part? The Banco Pacifico -Colombia also (self)-loaned money to Jacobo Bibliowicz, to friends of Pastrana, and to friends of friends of Pastrana.
Bibliowicz was part of the official Colombian delegation that traveled to Washington with President Pastrana in October of 1998, the president's first visit as head of state.
A few entries in the long list of people and entities to receive loans that was read in the session:
Gramex S.A. In liquidation. Created June 27, 1997 by notice 1465 of notary public 16 in Bogota. Directorship headed by Moises Jacobo Bibliowicz Volovitz.
Grafex S.A. Carrera 21 No. 37-57. General Manager: David Puyana.
El Filo Ltd. Carrera 21 No. 37-57. General Manager: Eduardo Puyana Rodriguez.
'The Puyana gentlemen are part of the extended family of the First Lady, Nohora Puyana de Pastrana', Petro explained. He went on:
'The Lloreda Group in Cali, who would have two ministers in the Pastrana government, also received loans. They received a loan of 800 million pesos on August 2, 1996. Then another for 1.4 billion pesos on August 25, 1997. With act 246 of June 1998, they were allowed to convert a credit card and loan debt of 2.3 billion pesos into dollars.
'They benefitted from that conversion, and later received another loan from Jabonera Investments S.A. for 2.15 billion pesos. On December 30, the committee met and decided on another loan of 2.176 million pesos from Jabonera.
'Lloreda S.A. and Jabonera Investments are a single company according to documentation of Lloreda S.A. The investigation that was finally ordered by the banking superintendent did not show any flight of money, simply because the money had already left in loans to businesses of friends of the president of the Republic, to Bibliowicz and his friends. So this hole, dug by people who received loans and didn't pay them back, was filled with the money of Colombian taxpayers.
'Another point: when the clause according to which Banco Pacifico -Ecuador has to cover its debts and the obligations of the Banco Pacifico -Colombia comes into effect, you will find that the owners of Banco Pacifico-Ecuador (which collapsed partially because its budgeting process was at the Latin America scale), including WestSphere, have made the Ecuadorian government sign a contract that assures that when the bank's assets are sold those who will be reimbursed aren't the Ecuadorians whose savings were deposited there but the old owners of the bank. The major recipient will be WestSphere. We have proof that this money will never be recovered by Colombia.
'But forgotten in all this is why, when it was his obligation, Dr. Luis Alberto Moreno did not act to insert a clause that would make it possible for Colombia to fight for our tax money.
'In the Third Commission of the House we will have proof of all of that happened in this episode', the Congress member declared.
'Nonetheless, our journey ended in the Cayman Islands', he said. 'There it was not possible to establish who was behind the local banking system where the Colombian tax funds ended up. This is information that will only be released to the Colombian authorities. But the Colombian authorities haven't gone there.'
None of this was published in the mainstream media. For them the news was the declaration made by Dr. Luis Fernando Ramirez, Minister of National Defense. According to him, an exhaustive investigation by the military intelligence service has proved that the debate is nothing more than a circus orchestrated by terrorism in order to distract from the blows that the government is dealing out to the narcoguerrilla.
According to the International Monetary Fund, by February of 2003 11 million Colombians were in absolute poverty.
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