An attorney recollects his participation in a civil trial that resulted from a catastrophic meltdown of the global silver market in this debut book.
In 1979, Nelson Bunker Hunt, an “infamous Texas oil tycoon,” concocted a plan as audacious as it was illegal. He organized a massive purchase of the world’s silver supply in order to manipulate the price for his own financial aggrandizement. In concert with a crowd of Arab investors that came to be known as the “Conti group,” which included the brother-in-law of the Saudi crown prince, Hunt and his cohorts bought more than 75 percent of the world’s silver supply, forcing prices to skyrocket astronomically. But when the bubble he created burst, the ensuing damage was vast, compelling Paul Volcker, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, to orchestrate a colossal bailout to forestall an economic collapse. Cymrot was the lead attorney that represented Minpeco SA, the “exclusive agent for Peru’s mineral sales abroad,” in a civil suit against Hunt. As a result of Hunt’s illicit dealings, the company lost $80 million in 10 days. The author lucidly recounts a complex but gripping tale largely through the examination and cross-examination of Hunt, who claimed he was an “ordinary kind of guy.” He was presented by his lawyer as the “victim” of global events beyond his control. Cymrot, a hard-nosed attorney who formerly worked for the Justice Department and “preferred facts to folksy stories,” depicted Hunt’s gambit as an “assault on world silver supplies.” The author’s remembrance is astonishingly detailed, a vivid chronicle of a trial that turned out to be of historical and economic significance. The financial particulars can be hyper-technical for those unfamiliar with the labyrinthine machinations of the metals markets, but Cymrot gracefully manages to render clear the naturally convoluted. This is more than a trial transcript—the author ably transforms the facts into a real story, a novelistic depiction of extraordinary fiscal subterfuge. Cymrot has produced something rare—a genuinely thrilling financial drama.
A captivating economic tale, both riveting and historically enlightening.