noembed noembed

Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Funny money

Former Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán is fighting the US government over money in some Coral Gables bank accounts. Aleman says it belongs to his family but the US says its funds diverted from the Nicaraguan treasurey.

The former president of Nicaragua recently dodged a pesky extradition order, and a 20-year sentence on corruption charges restricts him to Managua.

Now, the U.S. attorney's office is trying to seize the Coral Gables bank accounts of the former lawyer turned mayor turned president turned convict.


At issue: about $700,000 in seven Terrabank certificates of deposit in the names of several of Alemán's in-laws. The money has been frozen for three years, ever since the U.S. government filed a civil forfeiture claim, arguing that it should be seized because it was embezzled from the Nicaraguan treasury.

During the trial, which began last month in Miami federal court, Alemán's family testified that it's clean money -- proceeds from coffee farms and donations from something called the Nicaragua Democracy Fund -- but couldn't document it.

Prosecutors say the money was diverted from the Nicaraguan treasury to the president's office through a currency exchange company. About half wound up in the coffers of the Nicaragua Democracy Fund, a political action committee that doubled as an Alemán family slush fund, prosecutors contend.


Saying that both sides presented unconvincing evidence as to the source of the $700,000, U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno said he won't decide who gets to keep the money until next month. ''The funds were either stolen, came from the democracy fund or coffee,'' Moreno said. ``It didn't come like manna from the sky.''

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregorio Simms said some of the accounts were created in the late 1990s -- while Alemán was still president -- by confidant and former Nicaraguan tax collector Byron Jérez. Each worth about $100,000, the accounts belonged to Alemán and his late sister, but later changed names so that the titles are now largely in the names of María Fernanda's mother, sister and brother-in-law.

The relatives testified last month that the Alemán family for three generations enjoyed a healthy living from cattle and coffee farms. But the family failed to present documention for these specific accounts, and some witnesses could not even name the coffee farms or their location.

In the interview, María Fernanda said her husband's late sister opened the accounts to benefit Alemán's three children from his first marriage. Her lawyer George M. Evans said names were changed on the accounts because the family was trying to protect assets from the government, an action that was ``ill-advised but not illegal.''


But prosecutors did not offer a paper trail for the rest of the accounts, and it remained unclear where that money came from.
Simms said an audit showed that $33 million was embezzled from Nicaraguan presidential accounts beginning in 1997 and he said the Coral Gables accounts appeared after that. And Alemán's financial disclosure forms never once mentioned coffee, Simms said.


While Judge Moreno chided Simms for failing to connect the dots between the stolen funds and the Florida accounts, he said the Alemán family's coffee story was ''even weaker.'' The relatives, he said, seemed to have no idea where the money came from.

But Moreno suggested that if Nicaraguan political action committees wanted to create slush funds for the then-president to buy Cadillacs, they were free to do so without the U.S. government meddling.
I don't believe the Alemans one bit. Politicians around the world once in office feel free to take the people's money. I think it happens even here in the US. Why should the Alemans be any different?

The lack of proof from both sides won't make Judge Moreno's decision easy. Still the Aleman family can't document where it came from. So I hope Moreno remembers what he says, it can't be mana from the sky. These crooks passing as public servants need to be stopped.

Open Post- Right Wing Nation, Cao's Blog,

Listed on BlogShares