For Brooklyn Entrepreneur, Bolivian Jail and an Actor’s Aid
Jacob Ostreicher was a flooring contractor and father of five from Borough Park, Brooklyn, who, like more than a few entrepreneurs battered by the recession, decided to seek his fortune abroad. In his case, he went into rice farming in Bolivia.
Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Jacob Ostreicher, right, and Sean Penn last month in Bolivia. Mr. Ostreicher says an accusation that he laundered drug money is false.
But Mr. Ostreicher’s venture has landed him in what, by his account, is a nightmare that has included 18 months in a notorious Bolivian prison and a lengthy battle with corrupt Bolivian prosecutors bent on stealing his business.
His arrest has turned into an international affair that has drawn in the State Department and the actor-director Sean Penn, who traveled to Bolivia to make a public appeal for Mr. Ostreicher’s release from prison in December.
Mr. Penn’s lobbying appeared to persuade the Bolivian authorities to relent, at least partly. Mr. Ostreicher was allowed out of prison on bail, but he remains under house arrest in Bolivia.
At the same time, more than a dozen Bolivian officials — including prosecutors and the chief legal counselor in the Interior Ministry — have now themselves been thrown into prison, charged with trying to extort Mr. Ostreicher’s assets.
In a telephone interview from his home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Mr. Ostreicher, 54, professed his innocence and criticized Bolivian and American authorities. His voice was often weak from the effects of a lengthy hunger strike during which he lost 70 pounds.
The Bolivian prosecutors, he said, saw an opportunity to steal at least $16 million in equipment and $20 million in rice from his business. He said prosecutors had trumped up accusations that he laundered drug money.
“They put me in jail without a single shred of evidence,” Mr. Ostreicher said. “I felt like a lost soul, a dog.”
The Bolivian government insists that despite the subsequent corruption allegations against the prosecutors, investigators had valid suspicions about Mr. Ostreicher’s activities.
Carlos Romero, the interior minister, said Mr. Ostreicher had been arrested because of his involvement in a land deal with a convicted Brazilian drug trafficker. “Surely this made the entities charged with investigating these matters believe that it was very possible that there was some illegal link with Mr. Ostreicher,” Mr. Romero said.
By Bolivian standards, Mr. Ostreicher’s treatment may not be all that unusual.
Roberto Desogus, an official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, told American diplomats last July that Mr. Ostreicher was “yet another victim of a brutally slow, inefficient, underfunded and corrupt judicial system,” Mr. Desogus’s office said.
Still, Mr. Ostreicher’s supporters, including Dov Hikind, a Democratic New York State assemblyman from Borough Park, and Christopher H. Smith, a Republican United States representative from New Jersey, have assailed the State Department for what they said was its indifferent response.
Elizabeth A. Finan, a department spokeswoman, said consular officials had visited Mr. Ostreicher in prison more than 20 times and frequently pressed Bolivian officials for “a prompt and fair hearing of the facts.”
Mr. Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jew, said that as far as he knew, anti-Semitism did not play a role in how Bolivian prosecutors handled his case.
Mr. Penn intervened after the Aleph Institute, an organization that aids Jewish prisoners, contacted him. He is known for his outspoken left-wing views, including his championing of President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, a fierce opponent of the United States. The Bolivian president, Evo Morales, a socialist, is a close ally of Mr. Chavez.
After speaking with Mr. Morales, Mr. Penn was able to visit Mr. Ostreicher in Palmasola Prison.
A few days before Mr. Ostreicher’s release on Dec. 18, Mr. Penn held a news conference, with Mr. Ostreicher at his side, connected to an intravenous feeding tube. “There is a cancer attacking at Bolivia’s heart,” Mr. Penn declared, referring to official corruption.
“Jacob and his family are living a nightmare of human abuse,” he said. “And this is a moment for me to call on my Bolivian brothers and sisters to lend their courage and compassion on behalf of a man known by all parties — known by all parties — to be totally innocent of any criminal activity.”
Mr. Penn did not explain why he decided to get involved in Mr. Ostreicher’s case.
In the telephone interview, Mr. Ostreicher praised Mr. Penn, saying: “Not too many people love
Americans Jews more than Sean Penn. Sean Penn helped me because I’m an innocent American Jew.”
Mr. Ostreicher, a grandfather of 11, is the son of Holocaust survivors. He said that around the World War II era, his parents and extended family were able to transfer assets to Switzerland, where Andre Zolty, a lawyer in Geneva, was most recently handling their investments.
In 2008, Mr. Zolty, who has a specialty in agriculture, was convinced by a Colombian lawyer who had worked for him, Claudia Liliana Rodriguez, that there was money to be made in farming rice in Bolivia’s lowlands. He urged Mr. Ostreicher to invest.
Mr. Ostreicher traveled to Bolivia periodically to check on the enterprise and became suspicious that Ms. Rodriguez was skimming money. He reported her to the Bolivian authorities, and she is now in jail.
But one of the farmland parcels she had bought belonged to Maximiliano Dorado, who had been convicted in Brazil on drug charges and had escaped to Bolivia. Prosecutors investigating Ms. Rodriguez said they concluded that Mr. Ostreicher could be entangled in the laundering of “capital of dubious origin.”
The prosecutors never produced evidence to charge him formally. Nevertheless, Mr. Ostreicher ended up in June 2011 as the only American in Palmasola Prison, an experience he described as “sheer terror.”
It is a huge complex with 3,500 prisoners and is run internally by an inmates’ committee, although guards ring the perimeter.
Those close to him say Mr. Ostreicher was assaulted and humiliated until he paid money to committee functionaries. Before his hunger strike, he was able to obtain kosher food, and his wife took him matzos for Passover.
Mr. Ostreicher, who does not know when he will be able to return to the United States, said he was grateful to have survived.
“When I was in prison, I was thinking about Sean Penn’s movie ‘Dead Man Walking,’ ” he said. “When they dragged me like a dog into the courtroom, I felt like a dead man walking.”
A correspondent for The New York Times contributed reporting from Bolivia.
1. Why would the Bolivian government try to extort a flooring contractor?
2. Where are the other investors? Jacob only invested 200k out of at least 25 million.
3. The Aleph Institute asked Sean Penn to go to Bolivia on behalf of World Jewry (but Jacob says there was NO antisemitism). Why didnt the US Embassy and US Government get involved in this at all?
4. The latest video shows that Jacob was involved in a rice deal, but there isn’t one picture of him with a single grain.
5. Jacob said he has never been involved in drugs, but the land that he is connected with in this story, whether regarding rice or coca, was previously owned by a major drug dealer. He is directly connected to a well known Brazilian cocaine kingpin who Evo Morales was obviously well aware of.
Since Morales took office, there has been a 22% increase in the surface dedicated to the cultivation of coca in the country. Unlike Colombia, which in the 1980s cultivated and refined 90% of the cocaine consumed worldwide and fought the cartels and managed to decrease their production, Bolivia and Peru have increased their share of the market and now provide half of the drugs derived from coca leaves. Cocaine factories, which did not exist at the time in Bolivia, began to appear by the hundreds, and currently Colombian and Mexican cartels, as well as the Brazilian PCC gang operate in the country.
6. Why would a drug trafficking government try to extort a flooring salesman from Brooklyn worth 200k? And if the bad guys are now all in jail, why is Jacob still being held and who is holding him?
7. How the hell did the Holocaust get involved in this? Who is Andre Zolty? Is this a Jewish drug trafficking ring?
The venture was launched in 2008, just as U.S. relations with President Evo Morales began to seriously deteriorate.
Morales’ leftist government expelled the U.S. ambassador that year, accusing him of inciting the opposition, and began moving to confiscate big farms and ranches from major landholders, including an American rancher named Ronald Larsen who authorities claimed was exploiting his workers.
Neither Ostreicher nor the principal investor, a Swiss associate named Andre Zolty, speaks Spanish or had been to Bolivia when they took the plunge, they said.
They entrusted the venture to Claudia Liliana Rodriguez, who had gained Zolty’s trust years earlier when as a business student in Switzerland she did some work for him. She claimed to come from wealth, they said.
Ostreicher and Zolty say Rodriguez stole millions from them. Whenever they pressed from afar for documentation, they said, she threatened to quit.
After several trips to Bolivia to try to sort things out, with Rodriguez constantly evading him, the investors said, they finally learned the disturbing details of how she operated.
She pocketed their money while buying machinery and supplies on credit and putting land titles in her name, they said.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez planted rice on land she claimed to have purchased for the investors but that actually still belonged to a Brazilian drug trafficker named Maximiliano Dorado and his younger brother, the investors said.
Rodriguez paid for the land with a $3.5 million personal check that bounced, they said, never telling them she was getting them involved with a dangerous criminal.
“Max” Dorado had escaped in 2001 from a Brazilian prison where he was serving a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking, murder and money laundering, according to Brazilian police.
Soon after the investors learned they had rice growing on Dorado’s land, he was gone. And so was Rodriguez.
Zolty and Rodriguez (Lilly)-
Andre Zolty, one of the Swiss investors, said the idea came from a Colombian lawyer, Claudia Liliana Rodriguez, who had done some work for him in Geneva while a student.
“I made a big mistake to trust that woman,” Zolty said.
Some of the land that Rodriguez bought for the venture turned out to belong to the brother of a drug trafficker who had escaped from a Brazilian prison and who, the investors say, became romantically and financially entwined with her.
8. Jacob says Jews did not help him in Bolivia. Every government in South America is controlled by Jews at the top or simply through drug money.
9. Where is this rice?
The New Yorker said that since his imprisonment, nearly 40 million pounds (18,000 metric tons) of his venture’s rice was seized in the name of Dircabi, the government agency that manages assets frozen in criminal investigations.
“And nobody knows where it is and nobody knows who got the money and for how much money it was sold,” Ostreicher said.
“He is slowly losing his mind,” his wife said.
10. They invested 25 million and less than 2 years later they had $20 million worth of rice to sell, 16 million in equipment, the land itself, 30,000 acres. Not bad for a flooring contractor from Brooklyn.
No country on earth is a safe haven from Jew corruption. The whole earth is polluted. The question is who do Jews want to pollute the most?
The Jew State Connection
In 2003, the U.N. Panel of Experts on war in Congo revealed that Emaxon Finance International is controlled by Israeli diamond traders Chaim Leibovitz and Dan Gertler.39 Emaxon lists as its address an office in Montreal, Canada, but Emaxon’s majority shareholder is listed as FTS Worldwide, a nebulous global corporation whose business address is that of a firm of lawyers, Mossack Fonseca & Company, in Panama City. FTS Worldwide is registered with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to lawyer Andre Zolty of Geneva Switzerland. A copy of the MIBA-Emaxon contract was signed on 13 April 2003 by Israeli-Americans Yaakov Neeman and Chaim Leibovitz.40
Zolty acts on behalf of wealthy investors who wish to keep anonymous. Any idea who might wish to keep anonymous? Money launderers? Drug cartels? No folks, this goes much deeper into Jew corruption than meets the eye. The truth will come out or you can bet some Bolivians will be greased.