Cuba jails US fugitive over 'miracle drug'

Shadow over Castro: Suspicion mounts over mysterious court case as Aznar adopts tougher line

Robert Vesco, the one-time financier who fled United States justice for almost a quarter of century, has been jailed for 13 years in Cuba for fraud and illegal economic activity.

Vesco, 60, wanted in the US for allegedly running off with $224m (pounds 148m) of money from the Geneva-based Investors Overseas Services in the 1970s, had lived in Cuba since 1982.

The Cuban woman he married in custody earlier this year, Lidia Alfonso, was jailed for nine years for helping him procure foreign investment in a "miracle drug" against Aids and cancer, allegedly behind the back of the Cuban authorities.

Those are the facts of the court case, which Vesco has 10 days to appeal to Cuba's Supreme Court. But many Cubans believe there is far more to the story than meets the eye.

For one thing, when Vesco was first detained in Havana on 31 May last year, Cuba accused him of being a "provocateur and foreign agent". That charge was mysteriously dropped shortly before this month's trial, in which he was accused only of economic crimes against the state.

Secondly, Vesco told the court he had never met Cuban President Fidel Castro. But he had said in the past that he had done, and they were widely rumoured to be good friends.

Thirdly, the key to the court case was that Vesco was trying to sell the drug behind Cuba's back. But Vesco denied this and pointed out that he had been developing the drug TX, or Trioxidal, in the Havana laboratories of the state-owned Labiofam pharmaceutical company.

And that brings us to the tale of the two presidents' nephews. Labiofam is run by the Cuban leader's nephew, Fragga Castro. Donald Nixon Jnr, nephew of the former US president, was working on the drug in Havana with Vesco and was detained in Vesco's home on the same day, 31 May last year. Mr Nixon was freed after several weeks of supervision in a Havana hotel.

The rumour spreading through Havana is that the "miracle drug" was showing signs of success, heralding a battle between Cuba on the one side, and Vesco, Mr Nixon and its US inventor on the other, over potential billion- dollar profits. Mr Nixon said he brought the drug, invented by a doctor friend, to Vesco in Havana four years ago for testing and development after it cured his wife of cancer. The inventor wanted to bypass the 10- 12 year delay for approval in the US.

"I'm sitting on top of the biggest breakthrough in the history of man," Mr Nixon told The Independent. "I believe it would stop every disease including Aids. If you have herpes on your lip and you put it on immediately, it's gone. If you put it on a burn, it's gone within a minute."

Mr Nixon said the drug had been tested on Cubans aged from five to 80 with "rave results" and that the Cuban government had signed a development and production deal with the unnamed US inventor. "This could be worth $1bn a month. And the inventor will eventually receive the Nobel prize," Mr Nixon said.

Suggested Topics
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMLD Teaching Assistant Required - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently looking to ...

IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...


£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments