When newspaper El Panama America in March of this year reported that Monte Friesner's Pronto Cash benefited from a law that was designed by its law firm, they wrote the truth - but only part of it.
In the article, El Panama America quotes a letter from Mrs. Tatiana Nazarova, Friesner's wife and front woman at Pronto Cash, stating that the debit card scheme benefited from this Law 81 of December 2009, and that indeed Herbert Young was the registered agent of Pronto Cash, but that she did not know legislator Jose Blandon.
What she did not write to El Panama America was that this Law 81 was drafted, submitted and passed in constant consultation with Monte Friesner and Pronto Cash staff. What she also did not divulge is that Friesner paid Blandon & Young to draft and pass this law a substantial amount of money.
In the cache of documentation and other evidence leaked to Bananama Republic from inside the Friesner corporate network, we found elaborate correspondence between Herbert Young and Monte Friesner about this law.
The trail starts on August 12, 2009. One "Dora" (whom we presume works at the law firm of Herbert Young and Jose Blandon, sends the first draft of the so-called "anteproyecto de tarjetas de credito" to Young, commenting that "Dr. Miranda is finishing the exposicion de motivos".
On August 14th, Young forwards this document to John Dominguez, a director of Pronto Cash and various other Friesner companies. Dominguez then sends it on to Jose Luis Garcia, Friesner's in-house legal counsel, and to Monte Friesner, commenting the following:
Adjunto el anteproyecto de Ley que regula las tarjetas de crédito, necesito por favor que lo leas y lo revises como está actualmente y posterior a eso, añadamos los artículos que son de vital importancia para nosotros, gracias.
[Translated: Hereby the law proposal that regulates credit cards, I need you to read and revise the current version and then we will add the articles that are of vital importance to us, thanks]
On August 19, Herbert Young sends Friesner another draft:
Enclosed please find another draft for your consideration....
On August 29, 2009, Herbert Young sends another draft of the law to Monte Friesner, Jose Luis Garcia (in-house legal counsel) and John Dominguez (Pronto Cash director).
On October 3rd, the Pronto Cash crowd and Herbert Young discuss the draft law by email. After a phone call with Young, Friesner kicks off with a list of provisions he thinks the law should contain:
Thank you for your call!
1. No one in Panama should issue Debit Cards except Banks
2. No one in Panama should issue PrePaid Cards except Banks
3. No one in Panama should issue Reloadable PrePaid Cards except Banks
4. Only Banks & Financiera can issue Prepaid & Value MasterCard, Visa, American Express
5. Banks & Financiera must be Principal Issuer or have a Sponsor Bank to issue MasterCard, Visa, American Express
6. Only Banks & Financiera can issue Reloadable Prepaid & Value MasterCard, Visa, American Express (Virtual Cards)
7. Only Banks & Financiera can issue MasterCard, Visa, American Express Credit Cards which are also Prepaid & Value Cards
Dr. Monte Friesner, Ph.D., CD.C.
But director John Dominguez doesn't agree, and writes:
Mr. Monte you can not put the point number two because we issue PrePaid Cards. Remember MasterCard or Visa or American Express Is only brand and they decide what company apply or not for your products.
The point number two is the same to the point number 4, so the correct point is the number 4 “Only Banks & Financieras can issue Prepaid & Credit Cards”
If they accept this point, all Financieras and Banks can issue Prepaid & Credit Cards and donesn´t matter what brand is “MasterCard, Visa or American Express”.
If you put Financieras can issue Prepaid Cards is not necessary that you put the point number 3, because everybody knows if you have a prepaid card you need reload the card so the point number tree is not necessary.
In the point number 5 you need to put this:
“Banks & Financieras must be Principal Issuer or affiliate to Principal issue member for issue MasterCard, Visa, American Express”.
The Principal points must be:
1. No one in Panama should issue Debit Cards except Banks.
2. Only Banks & Financieras or Financial Institution can issue Prepaid & Credit Cards.
3. Banks & Financieras or Financial Institution must be Principal Issue Member or affiliate to Principal issue member for issue Prepaid Cards or Credit Cards.
And, adds Dominguez:
Is important to stand out the difference between Normal Prepaid Card and PrePaid Card with the sponsor of the brand MASTERCAD, VISA or AMERICAN EXPRESS.
Any company issue Cards or Prepaid Cards but only 6 or 7 Banks have the License to issue Cards or PrePaid Cards with MASTERCAD, VISA or AMERICAN EXPRESS.
We need to put “ Only Banks & Financieras or Financial Institution can issue Prepaid & Credit Cards with the sponsor of MASTERCARD, VISA OR AMERICAN EXPRESS.”
To that, Friesner replies:
We need to show the difference. We do not issue PrePaid Cards but rather brand MasterCard and/or Visa.
On October 26, Young sends his clients at Pronto Cash some proposed modifications, by the legislators Alcibiades Vasquez Velasquez, Miguel Aleman and of course Herbert Young's partner, Jose Isabel Blandon.
On November 3rd of 2009, a story appears that the law has been passed, which Friesner calls "silly". But, correspondence from that day shows that there are actually payments involved in the drafting and passing of this law. Writes Friesner to Herbert Young:
(...) Also the first of the payment will be within 10 days of the signing of the law and therefore a payment every week untilt he full amount is achieved.
Herbert Young replies to Friesner:
Dear Monte: Kindly assist me. I need that you cover the total amount after the signing of the law. Please proceed with weekly payments whith the idea of conclude after the signing of the law. We have a compromise and a strong pressure to performance this stage.
Regards, and enjoy this holidays.
To which Monte Friesner responds:
Thank you for your response and I sincerely will proceed with that concept as quickly s possible. I do understand about pressure.
On November 23rd, Young sends another draft to Friesner, who forwards it to Larry Heath, after John Dominguez requested the latest version of the law so that they could "draft the application forms for the cards":
Sería tan amable por favor de enviarme la última versión de la Ley para poder enviar a confeccionar el Formulario de solicitud de la Tarjetas, gracias.
There are more obstacles than just Friesner's reluctance to pay. The law was, after having been passed, vetoed, and on December 18th Herbert Young writes to Monte Friesner:
Enclosing please find the objections to Credit Card Law. The referred to objections do not affect Financiera Pronto Cash...
The message has this document attached. On January 4th of the following year, 2010, a proud Herbert Young is able to inform Friesner:
Dear Monte: Enclosed please find the Law 81 regarding Credit Cards and other Financial Cards, that was publish on the Oficial Diary of the Government on December 31, 2009.
About a week later, on January 12th, Monte Friesner and Herbert Young exchange emails about payment. That is, Young is pressuring Friesner for a payment of $50,000 which needs to be made to avoid Young having to advance his own money - apparently there are others to be paid as well. The whole affair is not conducted through the law firm, but through the opaque "Gaming Consultants Corporation", of which, the public registry shows, Herbert Young himself is the president, the legal representative and the registered agent. Writes Young:
Enclosed please find wiring instructions:
In favor of CITIBANK NEW YORK (ABA: 021000089; CHIPS: 0008 ó SWIFT ID: GLBLPAPA). For credit to GLOBAL BANK CORPORATION, Panama (UID CHIPS:352797) Account 36024434 for further credit to account No. xxxxxxxx971 in the name of GAMING CONSULTANTS (PANAMA) CORPORATION [editor's note: we blanked out the account number for legal reasons]
Monte, please be advised that I need a solution on this days, otherwise I will have to pay with my personal funds to avoid future problems...
So, apparently some calls back and forth are made, and then around noon Friesner writes:
I am having $50,000 USD transferred. Our bank has not yet liquidated the ING Bank Note. They are waiting from ING Bank to cash in.
And Herbert Young again:
Can you issue a check today for US$50.000? It would be helpful. Regards,
Friesner tries to gain time:
Can I wait a few days until the money is transferred into my account?
Now Herbert Young get really impatient:
Monte, you need a few days for issue a check of US$50.000 or to pay the total amount. Again Monte, when we can close this phase...Regards,
And then Friesner again:
Herbert please! I am trying quickly.
But Herbie is not to be hoodwinked and writes:
Dear Monte: Kindly provide with a schedule of payments. I really need this assistance. Regards.
And the next day, to an increasingly panicky Friesner:
Monte: In order to confirm the schedule you will pay US$50.000 on Friday, and the rest next week????
On February 1st, Friesner was still scrambling for money, and writes to Pronto Cash partner and director Larry Heath, an obscure lawyer in Canada. The "Bill" that Friesner refers to is, we believe, Bill Crashley, a dead person whom Friesner used to claim was still alive.
WE HAVE ERVIN, MARJAN AND FAHRO HERE MEETING WITH LAWYERS, HERBERT YOUNG AND US SINCE LAST TUESDAY. WE ARE SINGING FINALLY THE CONTRACTS TO START ISSUING PRONTO CASH MASTERCARDS FOR THE FOLLOWING;
1. SOCIETE DIPLOMATIQUE FOUNDATION WITH 75,000 PRESENT MEMBERS
2. FIA – IFC WITH OVER 100,000 ACCOUNTS
3. YOGA SOCIETY OF EUROPE WITH ABOUT 1.2 MILLION MEMBERS.
THE COSTS FOR THE CARDS IS BEING FUNDED BY THEIR BANK AND GROUP.
IN 2 WEEKS, JOHN AND I ARE FLYING TO LONDON TO MEET WITH “MASTERCARD (EUROPE) AND THEN TO ZAGREB TO MEET WITH FIA AND SEVERAL BANKS WHO ARE PART OF THE CONTRACT.
AND THEN TO MOSCOW TO SIGN THE AGREEMENTS FOR THE MASTERCARDS WITH GAZPROM BANK. HEREBERT YOUNG THE LAWYER IS ALSO COMING WITH US. GAZPROM HAS FINALLY AGREED TO PAY FOR THEIR COSTS OF SETTING US THE CARDS AND ALL LEGAL COSTS.
I AM ON MY KNEES RIGHT NOW LARRY AND BEGGING FOR YOUR HELP. WE STILL AFTER ALMOST 2 YEARS CANNOT PRODUCE AND PROOF OF TATIANA’S MONEY BEING SENT TO ALTAIR FINANCIAL AND IT LOOKS THAT THIS MONEY IS ALSO LOST SOMEWHERE.
I HAVE ALWAYS PAID BACK TO BILL & YOU FINANCIAL COMMITMENTS FROM SALES OF HOUSES IN TORONTO AND TO DATE ALL OF THE MONEY INJECTED INTO PRONTO CASH HAS COME FROM OUR OWN INVESTMENTS. NOW WE ARE ISSUING CARDS AFTER SIX YEARS OF HARD WORK AND TEARS.
I NEED THE LIENS RELEASED ON FRENCH KISS IN ORDER TO INJECT BASIC CAPITAL TO FINALIZE MORE MASTERCARDS AND PROCEED.
I WILL SEND YOU COPIES OF THE AGREEMENTS ONCE THEY ARE RECORDED WITH THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE IN PANAMA.
The French Kiss is, if you recall, a sailing boat that Friesner had trouble selling and renting out because it smelled like mold and shit.
When El Panama America ran its story about Blandon authoring and pushing a law favorable to Friesner's business, the legislator, whom some believe is one of the few honest politicians in Panama, called it a Martinelli hoax that was only being hyped for political reasons.
However, the emails and documents show that Blandon & Young worked in conjunction with Friesner to author the law and get it passed, with Herbert Young being the middleman and cut-out between Friesner and Jose Blandon, Mr. Clean Face. And what's more, Blandon and Young - and most likely several others - actually got paid handsomely by Friesner for their legal and political efforts - none of which was ever disclosed by them in the Assembly or anywhere else.
In other words, in Panama, a convicted crook like Friesner can just hire a lawyer and a legislator and have them deliver a law that suits his next scam. If that isn't corruption 101 I don't know what is.
Jose Blandon yesterday announced his candidacy for mayor of Panama City in the 2014 elections.