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Who Are These ‘Bankers’ Ecuador Keeps Referencing?

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
June 28, 2013

If you’ve paid attention to the case of Edward Snowden, you might have heard Ecuadorian officials refer to some bankers the U.S. is refusing to hand over.

Ecuador, of course, is considering an asylum request from the NSA leaker. The U.S. is pressuring them to abide by an extradition request, while Ecuador is taunting the giant.

During a press conference on Thursday, National Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado said the United States should have been more thorough in analyzing its extradition request for “the bankers.”

So who are these bankers?

Turns out they are the defendants in a lawsuit filed by the government of Ecuador in a Miami-Dade County court. The lawsuit was decided in the bankers’ favor on May 31. We tracked down the final judgement, in which Circuit Court Judge John W. Thornton lays out who these two men are.

According to Thornton: Roberto and William Isaias Dassum were the president and vice president of Filanbanco, Ecuador’s largest bank. In the late ’90s, Ecuador descended into a severe banking crisis, so it created an agency a lot like the FDIC that pumped $1.16 billion into Filanbanco to keep it afloat.

That failed and, according to the government of Ecuador, the Dassums fled to Miami after allegedly embezzling millions.

“Ecuador has requested that the U.S. extradite the Defendants back to Ecuador to conclude criminal proceedings against them and to be sentenced. This extradition request is pending,” Thornton writes.

In this lawsuit, however, Ecuador was asking the U.S. to confiscate about $20 million worth of assets the Dassums allegedly have in Miami. The government had already seized about $400 million in Ecuador.

The U.S. court refused Ecuador’s request, saying it is under no obligation to enforce Ecuadorian laws. What’s more, Thornton ruled, to allow Ecuador to confiscate property in the U.S. would “signify a substantial deviation from U.S. law and policy.”

“The Defendants may have committed the wrongs which Ecuador has alleged,” Thornton wrote. “However the manner in which Ecuador has attempted to right the Defendant’s alleged wrongs is inconsistent with U.S. law and policy.” [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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