In 2006, former US Treasury agent Leo Wanta, gave a series of interviews to Greg Szymanski. He claimed he was attempting to return trillions of dollars that lay in offshore accounts to the US Treasury.
This is his story, in his own words.
GREG SZYMANSKI: Okay. So basically, your job was to destabilize the ruble in an effort to bring the Cold War to an end, correct?
LEO WANTA: Correct. Because then they had no funds for the military. No funds for their intelligence. No funds for the KGB and the GRU and the like.
GREG SZYMANSKI: Now during this period of time, you set to work on this goal and you were pretty sucessful at it, correct? Your system worked.
LEO WANTA: Oh yes, very good at it. We had a draw from the US Treasury of $150 billion. Using the PROMIS software, we were bringing to the russians and the postal savings accounts and certain manufacturers an opportunity to get hard currency for their rubles at a swap value much less...Well it was really much more than it was worth, because it was worth zero. And we were paying between 18 and 28 cents per ruble in hard currency of swiss francs, italian lira, deutchmarks?, british pounds sterling and the like.
So based on that we entertained with the Development Bank of Singapore. We sent them 70 billion rubles, worth $84 billion US. We met with the big shots at the USSR embassy in Singapore and they were screaming at us, and yelling at us, that we were destroying their economy.
GREG SZYMANSKI: And, at that point is there any particular reason why the money wasn't immediately returned? What was the whole idea behind this, how did it get lost? That's one question people ask me.
LEO WANTA: [We] have Brinks in Holland counting, and wrapping, and packaging, and sorting out all the rubles. And making sure there were no counterfeits.
And then the Central Bank of the USSR, [it] was deemed that they had to [do the] exchange because they're the ones who set the benchmark and all that.
We met with the bigshots at the Soviet Embassy in Singapore and they were telling my chinese partner Mr. Kok that there is no way, no way in the world that they were going to give us $1.20 per ruble. And we argued back and forth, back and forth, and they said, "No, we're never going to give you $1.20."
So after a lot of arguing, and them drinking their goofy drinks, they came and said that the Kremlin authorized [them] to only pay us $1.08. I jumped up and down [on] the top of the tables and I said, "$1.08, Howe, we got more than that invested in the program!"
They were really happy that we were going to lose out. Unknown to them that we're [paying] 18, 22, 28 cents, a ruble which is a very good mark up of 4 or 5 times value. So we have the agreements with the Bank of China, that they sent all of the wire transfers to, that they would pay us $1.08. If we didn't like it we could get the hell out of town.
So I left. Howe stayed behind. They didn't trust me, being an american, but they would trust him because he was a chinese authority. So, we have all the landmark agreements and the benchmarks at $1.08. Now, we were in the foriegn exchange of off station rubles.
So the Russian people were now getting hard currency. Now they were bringing back in refrigerators from Buddhapest, and from Vienna. Everyday they were going from Buddhapest to Vienna, buying anything that wasn't parked. Bring it back to Buddhapest and trade it back for rubles.
We had a number of Buddhapest main banks accepting rubles on our behalf and paying them in hard currency.
They wrote articles that all the rubles were missing from the street, so they had to reprint new rubles. The finance minister was screaming that I, Wanta of New Republic has all the rubles in my possesion and they had no rubles. So we kept bringing them rubles back to the Central Bank.
Suddenly, they were short of rubles; so we had to figure out anouther way to get rubles back. So Howe? and I talked to India, Pakistan, China, Malaysia and all these countries and says, "Look you guys all have a national debt to the USSR and the Central Bank. What if we paid that debt off and we gave you rubles at 88 cents a ruble?"
They thought we were crazy but as long as we had the receipts and confirmation that their national debts were paid, perfect. So now all of these countries are paying their national debt to zero into the Central Bank of the USSR. Now [Sheshanko?] and everybody there are really, really excited that all of these countries are paying their debts back to the USSR. But keep in mind the rubles are worth [benchmarked at] $1.20. They took all the rubles and started paying all their national debts, based on about two-thirds the value, but getting 100% value.
So that worked out real good. They [USSR] were getting the hard currency, they were buying refrigerators, carpets, medicine in Vienna, Austria and everything else. We were bringing them meat through [authraw?] Poland.
We were negotiating with Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee to pick up their whole brewery and move it to Russia. The same with Intercontinental Baking or Continental Baking, they were closing their whole facility; we were going to bring that thing lock, stock and barrel. We bought horses from Mexico that they wanted, and everyone was having a real great time by buying something with hard currency.
All of these countries are buying them from Howe? and I at 88 cents. Not buying, but trading their hard currencies for what we wanted. So now the Central Bank is flooded with rubles, but they don't have any real hard currency, because everybody is paying them in rubles. So [Greshanko?] and everybody they says, "We got 2000 [tons] bullion of gold." In 75 kilos, 35, 35.5 kilos, 25 kilos, all mixed, one-off, and all this crap. And they gave us a huge discount if we would pay them in hard currency.
So now you've got 2000 tons in hard currency that we already made three or four-hundred percent on if not more.
We missed 246 tons in Latvia/Lithuania and Jim Baker said I was not doing my job because they still had 200 some tons of gold. If nobody tells me that how do I know to find it? We still had 2000 tons of bling, which is pretty good. We had to resmelt it at [Johnsonamassy?] at Singapore under heavy security and made out to our name. And paid cash.
Gorbachev was very much involved, the Central Bank was involved; everybody knew.
They were very pleased in the USSR, they're gettting all these rubles. Everybody's paying their national debts and they had all this currency coming back into the Central Bank in Moscow. Unknown to them, that President Reagan could stop at anytime the flopping, or the trading, of the rubles.
So that went on very well. Then everybody decided in the Whitehouse that there will be no more treaty arrangements of trading rubles for hard currency.
Now, the USSR is absolutely bankrupt, the GRU is bankrupt, the KGB is bankrupt. In reality they're not bankrupt, because Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Yegor Gaidar the Prime Minister took all of their rubles which really had a kids game 'Monopoly' value and [traded for] hard currency, in german marks, and swiss francs, and british pounds sterling, and everything else.
The USSR is absolutely bankrupt. They make a deal with Boris Yeltsin he has, he fakes this, ah, coup. That he was being attacked by his military, Gorbachev was you know. Which was all part of his [Gorbachev's] way for an exit. So therefore, we have all the hard currency, they have rubles. Nobody wants rubles. We had agreed with Putin and everybody, who at that time was Vice Mayor in Leningrad, that we would give a non-returnable grant to the USSR under the new image of the Russian Federation of $30 billion US dollars and that's to rebuild.
GREG SZYMANSKI: Where was this money earmarked for once you make this money this money back then?
LEO WANTA: Well, the money was earmarked for the US Department of the Treasury, except for $30 billion that was authorized by President Reagan through AmeriTrust to the Russian Federation in Mockba, which is Moscow, for redevelopment programs. As long as there are none military. We would have been moinitoring all of that $30 billion. We paid back the $150 billion, that we got forwarded from the US Department of the Treasury, within 6 months.
We had a tremendous amount of real hard currency and of that $70 billion that was set aside: $5 billion was going to Canada, $5 billion to UK, and $5 billion to Mexico and so on so forth a total of $70 billion. But at the same time down in Western American Samoa, we were setting up a $5 million oil refinery to back up the US oil needs.
We were [also] buying medium term bank...Well at that time they were called prime bank guarantees, at 7.5% annual interest, 10 year plus one day maturity. We were buying them at 68%, 66% per $100 million par value and we could either loan 'em, or sell 'em, or transfer, at 88 to 92[%]. In reality, we're making $20 million for every $100 million par value prime bank guarantee. And we're doing this repetitively, every hour on the hour. That generated a tremendous amount of money, that we would reduce any and all debt obligations of the USA. And that is what President Reagan wanted to do.
GREG SZYMANSKI: So this money, so you're sucessful at bringing the ruble down. In the meantime, you amass a lot of dollars. And you become the caretaker of this through Ronald Reagan. Who appoints you, through what you told me earlier, his trust in you.
LEO WANTA: Oh yes.
GREG SZYMANSKI: Okay. So the years go by now, this fund is there, I mean the money is their now invested in the different things.
LEO WANTA: Yeah, in prime bank guarantees.
GREG SZYMANSKI: Okay. Now how does that transition remain american assets, but remain out of the country?
LEO WANTA: Yeah, offshore bank deposits.