VESCO by Robert A. Hutchison


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The life story of Robert Lee Vesco, the Iago of international finance now avoiding extradition in his Caribbean hideaway, got off to a slow, lower middle-class start. As a high-school dropout Detroit, his deceit had to operate within limits. His great moment -- and the heart of Hutchison's story -- arrived in his '30's once he had manipulated a handful of worthless paper companies into a public conglomerate with an intricate house-of-cards debt structure and then saw his golden opportunity in the liquidity and confidence crisis of Bernie Cornfeld's vast offshore IOS empire. Vesco kept one step ahead of his debt obligations and the law with his own special shell game. The shells are a pyramid of corporations (plus dummy banks and secret numbered accounts) based not in SEC-patroled U.S. territory but in Canada or, even better, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Panama. And the hand that holds the assets is fast -- now you see that billion dollars that once belonged to a million IOS investors, now you don't. Hutchison, a Geneva correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph, has the playback of all the schemes, frauds and lies -- including the $200,000 payoff to CREEP, the deals with Mitchell and Stans, the houseboy-or-hostage relationship with Don-Don Nixon (Richard's troublesome nephew -- Vesco's ace in the hole). The looting of IOS, with all its court intrigues and power plays, is one of the great crimes of Wall Street history and Hutchison's sleuthing of Vesco's pipedream turned malefaction is first-rate financial journalism.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1974
Publisher: Praeger