Unforgettable TV moments Tuesday on Telemetro, where journalist Alvaro Alvarado interviewed COACECSS directors Ernesto Vaughan and James Sturges.
Credit union COACECSS, as you may know, is being liquidated because of a series of irregularities that endangered the integrity of the institution and the deposits, after regulators intervened last year.
financial shysters directors see that differently. In their view, nothing was wrong with the way they managed the bank, and all the troubles are the result of a campaign against them. A plot!
They did not really explain who would benefit from such a campaign, but suggested that it might be the regular banks who don't like the competition of credit unions.
However, COACECSS had spun an elaborate web of agents, associates and providers which included a number of known financial criminals. At one point, Alvarado asked the directors duo about ties with Financial Pacific and Pronto Cash. The latter was convicted fraud artist and money launderer Monte Friesner's and Tatiana Nazarova's debit card company, which was issuing MasterCard debit cards for COACECSS - until the authorities closed them down as part of an investigation into financial crimes.
Financial Pacific, yet another financial institution taken down by the regulators for a variety of shady activities, sold Certificates of Deposit of COACECSS, earning what regulators claim were exorbitant commissions.
And then there was Offshore CD Network Inc., a company (website now says they're "under reconstruction", and the company itself is dissolved says the Public Registry - hahaha!) in which Nixon's former Watergate bagman and ex-partner of rogue financier Robert Vesco, Gilbert Straub, is a principal. Straub was also selling CD's for COACECSS. Who is Straub? There's tons of information on Google, but here's the beef from the testimony of a former US undercover agent, Robert Mazur:
With regard to Panama, I shared office space with Gilbert Straub, a convicted drug money launderer who was formerly a lieutenant of Robert Vesco. During the early 1970's, Straub ran Vesco's operations in New Jersey. He is the individual who personally delivered $50,000 in U.S. currency that was initially used to buy the silence of the Watergate Burglars. After Straub, Vesco and others were indicted for SEC violations in the early 1970's, he fled to Panama, established Panamanian citizenship, and embarked on a career of laundering illegal proceeds for U.S. based organized crime figures. Straub informed me of innumerable facts relative to the illegal activities he and others staged from Panama.
Last but not least, Jon Hanna of Panama Offshore Legal Services, formerly of the Harris Organisation, was also reselling these CD's, and is now, oh irony, offering services to recoup those assets investors may have lost with these CD's.
Thus having embedded themselves firmly in the sleaziest and shadiest corners of Panama's financial industry, such as it is, COACECSS was obviously a disaster waiting to happen. The directors and, they say, a group of depositors, are fighting the decision to liquidate the scheme in court, they announced on Telemetro.
We're sure we haven't heard the last about this case. Meanwhile, here's the video: