Cuba Says U.S. Has Not Sought Fugitive Financier's Extradition

From Associated Press

Cuba said Thursday that the United States has not sought extradition of fugitive financier Robert Vesco nor has Cuba offered to extradite him.

Rafael Dausa, spokesman for the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations, said the government has not received any formal petition for the return of Vesco, who was arrested this month after living in Cuba for 13 years.

But there have been "contacts through diplomatic channels" between the two governments over the case and Cuba would analyze such a request, Dausa said.

U.S. officials say the head of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana has met with Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon, the nation's chief expert on U.S. affairs, but there have been no details.

Dausa's comments may indicate that Cuba wants more formal dealings on the case with the United States. The countries do not have full diplomatic relations.

Earlier, Cuba announced that Vesco was under investigation as a possible provocateur and agent of an unidentified foreign power.

Justice Department officials have described Vesco, 59, as one of the most wanted U.S. fugitives abroad.

U.S. officials say they have told Cuba they are interested in Vesco's return, but they insist the case is not related to improved relations with President Fidel Castro's government.

Vesco was accused of making an illegal $200,000 in contributions to former President Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign and of bilking investors in a Swiss-based mutual fund out of an estimated $224 million.

He fled the United States in 1972 and lived in a series of countries, seeking to avoid extradition, before settling in Cuba, which said he was allowed to stay for "humanitarian reasons."

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