A Costa Rican issued an order for the arrest of American financier Robert L. Vesco yesterday on charges of having defrauded a Costa Rican citizen of $2500,000.
Vesco was ordered held on $351,000 bond, a national record, by Judge Juan Quiroz after he found in favor of a naturalized Costa Rican in a civil suit.
Hungarian-born Carlos Rechnitzer charges that he lost $250,000 through purchase of shares in Investors Overseas Service, the Swiss-based mutual fund that Vesco once controlled and from which the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleges Vesco looted $224 million.
Also, indicated were six assosciates of Vesco, who took refuge in the Central American nation in 1973 to avoid arrest in the United States. The four Americans, one Canadian and one Swiss were eached ordered to post $120,000 bail.
Neither Vesco nor his lawyers were available for comment and it was not clear if the seven men were now in custody.
A prompt trail could finally lead to Vesco's departure from Costa Rica. WHile Vesco has built up strong financial ties, the Central American nation demands that he be expelled have been increasing.
President Daniel Oduber asked Vesco to leave last summer, but the civil suit involving him, which the judge resolved yesterday, was cited to keep him in the country.
President-elect Rodrigo Carazo has said that "expelling Vesco" will be his first order of business on taking office May 8.
However, should Vesco be found guilty and then take the case to appeal, the legal process could drag out his departure.
Carazo campaigned on the issue of corruption in Costa Rica and said Vesco was the most dramatic illustration of the problem.
While the 41-year-old financier's complex and secretive business deals make it difficult to identity his interests, long-time Vesco watchers assert that he is involved with a number of Costa Rican politicians and has channelled at least $60 million into the country's economy.
His principal holding company is Inter-American Capital S.A., which is believed to own the Panama-based holding company Numeros S.A., through which he in turn controls firms in the Bahamas, Panama and Costa Rica.
In COsta Rica itself, Vesco is involved in hotels, restaurants, communications, real estate and ranching.
When asked recently about his possible departure, Vesco cheerfully told reporters that he had recieved invitations from several countries.
Vesco has lived with his wife and five children in a home near San Jose that is equipped with trained attack dogs and closed-circuit television cameras. His main ally has been former president Jose Figueres, who after dominating Costa Rican politics for 25 years, entered into several business ventures with the financial wizard from the Bornx.
Figueres himself has now charged that Vesco-backed companies made important campaign contributions to two presidential candidates in 1974.
Last month, Vesco applied for Costa Rican citizenship, for which he is eligible having completed five years of residency.
A response, according to well placed sources, was expected next week. The sources believed that the verdict about Vesco's naturalization - he is registered as an Italian citizen - was held off to await yesterday's court decision. Eligibility for citizenship, these sources pointed out, hinges on good conduct.
There have been two unsuccessful U.S. attempts to have Vesco extradicated - first from the Bahamas in 1972 and then from Costa Rica in 1973. In addition to the SEC charge, he was charges in New York in 1973 with secretly paying $200 million to a fund for President Nixon's relection.
Vesco mover Costa Rica from the Bahamas when he found that Prime Minister Lynden O. Pinding and his friends began treating the most wanted financier as a captive source of capital for their personal ventures.
In 1975, the Bahamas government closed down the Vesco-controlled Bahamas Commonwealth Bank. But for all his problems in the Bahamas, he could be forced to return there because he must find a country where he will not be vulnerable to U.S. extradition. He must also settle in a country not populated with other angry investors in Investors Overseas Services.
Vesco assosciates in Costa Rica who also were indicated include American Milton Meisner, Stanley Graze, Richard Clay and Gilbert Straub, Swiss citizen Ulrich Strickler and Canadian Norman Leblanc.