Ecuador could end extradition cooperation with U.S., says attorney general

Aug 29, 2015

Ecuador says it’s tired of waiting for the United States to follow through on promises to extradite fugitives and, in some cases, those already convicted of crimes.

Fugitive Ecuadorian banker Roberto Isaias lives in a Coral Gables, Florida mansion.

Fugitive Ecuadorian banker Roberto Isaias lives in a Coral Gables, Florida mansion.

Attorney General Galo Chiriboga says that U.S. authorities have agreed to return a number of high-profile fugitives but have not kept their promises. “If they do not fulfill their legal obligations in these cases, we will terminate our agreements of cooperation,” he said. “We have worked with them for years but if there is no reciprocity, we will end the relationship.”

At the top of Chiriboga’s list is former national police commander Edgar Vaca, accused of kidnapping, torture and murder of government opponents during the presidency Leon Febres Cordero, from 1984 to 1988. Vaca, on Interpol’s list of most wanted international criminals, lives openly in the U.S. Although he was detained briefly in January when U.S. authorities said he would be extradited, there has been no further word on the case in eight months.

Chiriboga says that the U.S. has also failed to follow through on promises to return former bankers Roberto and William Isaias. The pair has been sentenced in absentia for stealing more than 100 million from Ecuador.

As owners of Filanbanco, the Isaias brothers were central figures in Ecuador’s 1999 – 2000 banking collapse. The brothers were among the wealthiest people in Ecuador at the time, with interests in sugar, media, banking and other businesses. In the collapse, Filanbanco and dozens of other banks failed, leaving thousands of Ecuadorians without their life savings.

According to official records, the Isaiases, sent millions of dollars of Ecuadorian money intended to save Filanbanco, to Miami, where they fled in 2001. Today, the brothers live in Miami mansions and contribute thousands of dollars to the campaigns of both Republican and Democrat congressmen and senators, who Chiriboga says, have intervened to stop extradition efforts.

In November, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Roberta Jacobson said that the brothers would be extradited but there has been no action since then.

Both Vaca and the Isaias brothers claim they are victims of Ecuadorian political persecution.

 

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