Ecuador Attorney General Galo Chiriboga will travel to the United States on Tuesday to press the case for extratiditon of Roberto and William Isaías, former Ecuadorian bankers accused of fraud and embezzlement during the 1999 banking crisis.
The brothers fled Ecuador in 2000 after being accused of bilking the government of more than $400 million in bailouts based on false balance sheets. In 2012, the two were sentenced in absentia by an Ecuadorian court to eight years in prison. Interpol has issued a “red notice,” or international alert, for the fugitives.
The U.S., however, has so far refused to return the Isaiases to Ecuador, claiming legal irregularities in their convictions. Many, including the Ecuadorian government, claim that the brothers are buying favors in the U.S. in hopes of avoiding extradition. Over the years, the brothers have contributed more than $1 million to U.S. congressional candidates and over $100,000 to Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.
In addition to collecting bailout money under fraudulent claims, the Isaiases’ convictions include charges that their Filanbanco embezzled millions more from customers and businesses.
Chiriboga says he will appeal to the U.S. government and courts based on a consideration of fairness and mutual benefit. “We continue to extradite suspected criminals to the U.S. from Ecuador,” Chiriboga said, “and we expect them to do the same.”
In June last year, the State Department of the United States reported that it is unable to proceed with Ecuador’s extradition request. A U.S. district judge said, “Ecuador has not provided evidence that the Isaias brothers deliberately participated in the planning of embezzlement in the specified amount of money.” Although the judge left open the possibility that the decision will be reconsidered based on new information.
A number of international and U.S. legal watchdog organizations have condemned the U.S. position on the Isaiases, charging that the brothers appear to buying their freedom.
“There is a certain mercenary aura on Capitol Hill when it comes to overlap of fund-raising from wealthy individuals with problems,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a research group. “The key elements are all there: They are wealthy and have problems that are solved by the discretionary judgment of someone in the administration. They have tons of money and are willing to write checks all over the place.”
Photo caption: Ecuador Attorney General Galo Chiriboga will travel to the U.S. next week to seek extradition of the Isaias brothers.