The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), the private sector lending arm of the multilateral Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), continues to display its contempt for the U.S. justice system, despite the fact that the United States government is the IIC's largest single donor.
Jacques Rogozinski, former General Manager of the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC), failed to appear at a deposition in Washington, D.C. earlier this month on Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the case of Vila vs IIC. The Plaintiff’s counsel, Douglas Hartnett of Elitok & Hartnett, has been requesting Rogozinski’s appearance since October 2012. But the former IIC official left for Mexico immediately after he resigned as General Manager on Dec. 31, 2012. Although Rogozinski had been subpoenaed by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia he did not indicate if or when he would return to the U.S. for a future deposition.
The Plaintiff in the case, Jorge R. Vila, sued the IIC in October 2006 claiming that the institution solicited, received and benefitted from his services from January to August 2003, but then refused to compensate him. Court papers show that the IIC entrusted Vila with broad authority to negotiate terms and conditions of loans with clients and potential co-financiers. Through senior officials, the institution also asked Vila to participate in both internal project discussions and external negotiations and to draft internal and external IIC documentation for the signature of IIC senior management.
Vila asserts that Rogozinski was instrumental in the decision that the IIC need not pay him after it benefited from his services, a serious violation of U.S. law. Nonetheless, IIC attorneys asserted that the institution is protected by the equivalent of sovereign legal immunities and cannot be held to account in U.S. courts.
Rogozinski assumed the post of General Manager at the IIC in 2000, three years after he left Mexico. He held the post of Minister of Privatization in the Government of Carlos Salinas de Gotari, Mexico’s infamous President from 1988 to 1994. The Salinas family and their associates are still blamed in Mexico for dramatic increases in poverty, the rise of the drug trade and the epidemic of corruption that flourished during and after the six-year Salinas presidency.
In June 2009, the Court of Appeals confirmed the District Court for the District of Columbia decision of February 2008 that Vila had a legitimate claim against the IIC and the institution must respect the authority of the U.S. court system in this case.
The claim against the IIC has entered the discovery phase, with Vila requesting documentation from the IIC and testimonies from IIC and IDB officers in anticipation of a trial by jury. This case continues to receive increasing public and political attention in Washington, as the Court decisions already handed down represent an important judicial precedent that pierces the immunities of international organizations, such as the World Bank and the United Nations.
At trial, testimony is expected to focus on the internal controls and audits, transparency and accountability problems of the IIC, that lie at the heart of the Vila case. These issues are expected to attract the interest of members of Congress, the White House and the Treasury Department, as the U.S. government evaluates the prudence of continuing to disburse public funds to both the IDB and the IIC.
Bea Edwards is the Executive Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.