Monday, January 31, 2011



Although Fidel Castro, now in his mid-eighties, is being accused of many misdeeds, we must acknowledge that the revolution he led did a lot of good things for the Cuban people initially: the establishment of an effective health care system accessible to all, and the eradication of illiteracy, to mention just two.
His regime also became unwittingly involved in a number of spectacular frauds, one of which was perpetrated by the owners of Parmalat, the giant Italian milk conglomerate.

Shell companies and “cut and paste” forgery were combined with more traditional fraud, such as the falsifying of sales figures via phony invoices. In one particularly flagrant case of “cooking the books,” Parmalat’s Cayman Islands subsidiary Bonlat claimed to have sold enough powdered milk to Cuba in one year to produce 55 gallons of milk for each one of the small island nation’s citizens.

The fraud was not discovered for a long time because the Cuban authorities routinely refuse to cooperate with large independent auditing firms and do not acknowledge the existence of accounts payable. In the Parmalat case the auditors, in turn, never bothered to seek alternative means of verification, such as examining shipping receipts, for example.

The Parmalat fraud is typical of the cases I had the opportunity to investigate as a Bankruptcy Trustee and Forensic Accountant and some of which I interwove into my novels, HAVANA HARVEST and FATAL GREED.