Richard Carnes: Fat lady sings on Vilar’s conviction
Yes, the horse has finally died, but forgive me, for I still feel obligated to keep beating it for a little while longer.
No more “alleged.”
No more “innocent until proven guilty.”
No more self-deluding rationalizations of “he did a lot of good for this valley.”
The fat lady of irony completed her warm ups and has now reached her top octave on the final number, as opera lover and Cuban-born former philanthropist, Alberto Vilar, is 100% guilty.
Just like Skilling (Enron), Ebbers (WorldCom), Kozlowski (Tyco) and Stevens (U.S. Senate), Vilar is as guilty of financial scams in asset management as U.S. auto executives are of financial ineptitude in making travel plans.
Last week the former part-time local was convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud (sensing a trend here), making false statements (telling really big fibs), money laundering and nine other counts of investment related no-nos.
His partner in crime, Gary Tanaka, was also convicted of conspiracy as well as securities and investment adviser fraud. But seeing how Mr. Tanaka does not have anything in Happy Valley named after him, I don’t really care all that much.
However, this dynamic duo of derivative deceit, after a number of progressively bad decisions followed by a market plunge in 2000, switched to fraud to feed their financial narcissism, depositing millions of clients’ dollars into their personal accounts.
And now Vilar has to pay the piper, which in this case will refer to his prison guard for those special cigars from his homeland.
“We’re deeply disappointed,” said Herald Price Fahringer, Vilar’s lawyer. “We expect to be fully vindicated on appeal.”
Don’t they all?
So now I say again: It is time to change the name for the wonderful performing arts theater up in Beaver Creek.
As Nike keeps reminding us: Just do it.
A reader asked me a few months ago, after writing about this subject before Vilar’s trial even began, what I had against the man.
Nothing on a personal level, I told them.
Never met him, never attended any of his grand openings, never gave him much thought actually, except as a semi-local philanthropist who seemed to be very popular with the fundraising crowds.
But what I cannot stand is simple hypocrisy, and this convicted felon was full of it.
Alberto Vilar does not deserve to have his name on the Beaver Creek auditorium any more than Aspen deserves a Kenneth Lay Memorial.
And with all due respect, those that continue to rave about “all the good” he did are now doing nothing more than turning a blind eye to a criminal that made himself look saintly with other people’s money. His reputation is not “cloudy,” as one person call it, but “convicted.”
Vilar no more “earned” the right to keep his name in lights than Tonya Harding did to skate in the Olympics. He made his mark by cheating, and then pretending to have not cheated, plain and simple.
And now a juried court of law has legally determined Alberto Vilar is a convicted criminal.
As I wrote a few months ago, just take away the R, put the A in front of the I, and we could all celebrate the grand opening of the new “Vail Performing Arts Centre at Beaver Creek.”
Notice the European flair of flipping the “e” and the “r.” Provides a little dash of extra class, don’t you think?
NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper, but for the sake of simple ethics, he thinks they should be.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.