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Offshore Islands

CONTENTSPROLOGUEChapter I Habanahapter 2 Sonnen ReisenChapter 3 Siempre Rebeldeshapter 4 Santiago de CubaChapter 5 A Side TripChapter 6 The Cayman IslandsChapter 7 Limerick IrelandChapter 8 A Caribbean CruiseChapter 9 Pat KennedyChapter 10 Free MoneyChapter 13 Ciudad Cayo SaetiaChapter 14 Women and Fast CarsChapter 15 A Passport to IrelandChapter 16 KavanaghChapter 17 Castlemain in CubaChapter 18 Castlemains DreamChapter Ig On the Run AgainChapter 20 At Castlemain's RequestChapter 21 The Money rolls InChapter 22 A different VisionChapter 23 The New EconomyChapter 24 Ciscap limitedChapter 25 Another Start-UpChapter 26 The Bottens HandelsbankChapter 27 Ivan Pavlov garciaChapter 28 ErikksonChapter 29 Les Marchands de biensChapter JU A cargo

cheap last minute flights for tourists not particularly concerned abouttheir holiday destination There was no crowd; the Easter holidayrush was another few days away He stood in line behind the onlysle of young back-packers whediscussing a flight to India with the sales girl His eyes ran downof destinations available that day, hand written in large blacketters with a marker pen on a white plastic notice boardo that reminded him too muchthe Baringscandal, Mike Leeson had ended up with a three or four year trihangi Prison New Yorknot that either, the Yanks had put a lot ofmoney into"Swap' Mexico

didnt sound bad, he mused thinkingof mariachis onnd thoughts hetories about it biCuba hmm, he vaguely recalled beingd a certain rundown charm from Tony Arrowsmith back in Dublin, a businessfriend, more of an acquaintance He mentally rephrased'friend' inthe conditional at least he had been a friend arrowsmithm talking of beaches, cigars, rum and exotic women, but also andnot least he had mentioned it as being not far from those very usefuoffshore banking havensCuba? he said aloud without thinkingYa! It is possible, replied the sales girl with an encouraging smile"One thousand two hundred marks for the round trip -ten days, withtwo nights and breakfast included in Santiago de cubaIsly distinguishing thedifference between Havana and Santiago de Cuba After all why nothe thought to himself, it can't be more than just a hop from theremeet Martin Wender in persorYoull need a tourist cardA tourist card! he replied snapping out of his reveriDont worry, you can get it on arrival, a few dollars will see toeveWhat passport do you have?No problem It's a Lufthansa charter flight with Condor, leaving at

1 30 from terminal b check-in starts in half-an-hour You 'll takeOkay, he nodded thinking it's as good as anything I'll find todayShe made out the ticket and hoteKavanagh paidcash and headed towards terminal b to the check-inAs he tried to decipher the signs to his boarding gate, he suddenlyhad a misgiving, remembering Arrowsminvolved in a touristex called the‘Cayoplace called Holguin, or a name like that, financed by the bCn withastlemain, perhaps that could make a problemave to keep my wits about me, whatever happens I'd better avoidChapter 3 Siempre RebeldCobserver could not be blamed for thinking that the countryooked as though it had just emerged from a ruinous period of warandThe enigmatic revolutionary, El Lider Maximo, had broughtcountry to economic collapse and disaster

He was no hero, justanother idealist who had backed the wrong horse He was not theonly one to have believed in revolution, equality, communism andhe soviets and he was not the onlyHe was born a wealthy sugar plantation owners son At first hebecame a lawyer and then a revolutionary, overthrowing the corrupt,but typical Latin American dictatorship of the fiftiesidel Castro had not been a commued in hayJanuary 1959 as a young barbudo hot on the heels of the oustedme,and perhaps he had never bea communwould remain a question for future political analysts and historiansAs events developed in those earlyCastro had certainlyimagined that he could manipulate the Soviets against the YankeesHowever, Moscow saw Cuba at best as a symbol of revolutionary

communist fervour and in the worse case merely a Cold War pawn intheir struggle with the weIn any case Castro was drawn into the East-West confrontationwhere he had litintrol of the events thatthe Missile Crisis He became the target of the Kennedyadministrations wrath and that of successive presidents of the USaCastro was seen as the prime menace to the regimes dominated bythe United states in theCentral and LatinAmerica, where Castro's lieutenant, the charismatic Che guevarafomentedstic revolutionary struggleWith the development of ties to Moscow and the Americanlargo, Cuba became totally reliant on the Soviet block for theexport of its primary product, sugar, as well as its importsindust, manufactured goods, services, technology and justWith the collapse of communism the consequences for Cuba wereany ways no different to that of the other Ssatellites, butcertain ways were worst as a result of the continued survival ofLider Maximo There was no way Castro could be forgiven for thelese majesty and the perceived treachery to the USA Cuba had achoice, either get rid of Castro or rot in its cane fields, before anyof policy could come about

The USA, it seems, did not hold a permanent grudge against theCuban people for whom it offered asylum to those who bravedwaves of the atlantic to reach florida across the 1 50 kilometresa that separated Key West from the northof cuba The resulas a thriving community of six hundred thousand cubans in themainly living in Southern FloridaBy 2000 Cuba had become dependant on the yearly one billiondollars of transmittals from its expatriates in Florida, twenty times asnuch as it earned frolbidden in the usaTheir other industry was tourism, which counted on two millionsitors for the year 2000 The tourists were in preference parked ingolden ghettos with sun, sand and mojitos Contacts between Cubansand tourists were kept to a strict minimum

was a long way from the revolutionary rhetoric of Che Guevara,who at the end of the twentieth century had become a legend, on apar with John Lennon-twenty dollar Tee shirt heroes Whilst FidelCastro, sporting his beer belly, had becomethParkinsons or Alzheimer's lurking in the background, ready to takeover at an opportune momentHis succession would be left to a struggle between second classsocialist minded politicians, doubtful miaralists or theMafiya, ready to divide the carcass of the people's revolution withthe other vultures that would be present at the meagre feastChe had the good fortune to die a hero he was still adored bCubans and many others, sacrificed at the symbolic33 byaperiums Americana, worshipped as a people's hChristCastro's greatest risk would be going the way of Ceausescu, if bychance a wild spark carried by the wind inflamed the Cuban peoplweary of his oppressive regime and their continued privationChapter 4 Santiago de cubaAfirst they gave the Bodeguita del Medio, a bar famous for itscelebrated literary and intellectual patrons such as Hemingway,a cursory glance, it merited no more than that, now a mere touristtrap according to the guide book

Then on second thoughtgot the better of them and they decided a quick look and a daiquirido no harm Once installed in the bar paul could not resist thetemptation of fixing the scene on film with a couple of furtivecamera shotsAn hour later they arrived in the plaza del cathedral It was stilllight but hot and either the daiquiris or the six hour tilerencewith Paris were beginning to have its effect They took a table on theterrace of thebar whichtuated on thesquare and by all appearances another tourist trap but the sound

There was a small group of musicians ensconced on a narrowpodium in the corner of the terrace; they were rendering their versionf Compay Segundo s song Chan Chan, which for the two visitorsff the plane had the effeinstantly traming the tolbrochure images into reality, as it had done for many others beforePaul lifted his hand and made a sign to the waiter and ordered "Dosmojitosely casteHe beamed when hisrder for the popular cocktail was accepted without the slightshesitation by the waiter, who responded with a friendly smileby no means the first or last time that two pale faced gallegos withuld orderos What was of more importance to thewaiter was the necessity to encourage a good tip in dollars from theThe mojitos arrived, cocktails of rum, in preference Havana Clubfreshly pressed lime juice, a spoon of sugar and a sprig of fresh minttopped up by sparkling water in a tall glass They quickly down thedrinks and ordered two more whilst listening to the music, whichonly fuelled their ardour to further explore Old Habana before dinner

was merely a foretaste to them of what was to come, thoughwas not in a tourist bar, however good, they would find the authentiCuban atmethe legendary TThey set off in tIdirection of Plaza Vieja following an itinerary indicated in their guidebook That would be enough to give them an idea of the attractions oOld Havana before commencing some serious exploration thefollbarked from the Condor flight and followedinto the terminal building on the roof of the building the sign readAeropuerta de santiago de cuba He joined one of the lines, thewas forming before the passpobooths Ae observation would be useful before he confronted the ofAt a first glance it looked rather similar to that he had seen on a tripMoscowHe began to vaguely understand that perhaps this was not havarHe had been seated next to an elderly german couple who spoke

little or no English, which had limited any exchange to polite smilesAfter the flight had left frankfurt he had eaten the plastic meal andhad immediately fallen asleep, relieved after the built-up stress of theprevious forty eight hoursAs the line slowly advanced, he tried to observe the procedure at thebooths from where he stood without being too obviously curiousAfter ten or fifteen minutes he had almost reached the yellow line , ae was having difficulties A disembodied hand appearefrom the window of the passport control booth indicatthey should return to the lineThey were smiling and shrugging their shoulders, signifyingline to proceed to the passport control Theed explanation to the othelirstrained to listelalmost zero He got the words in English tourist card

a feeling ofanxiety started to manifest itself inside of him, he hoped the girl atnnen Reisen hadhad her facts rightit would happen if he was put on the return flight? He tightenedhis grip on the handle of his carry-on bag which reminded him ofwhen a uniformed official appeared a few moments later and tookhe passports of the yourspoke to them softaccented but clear englishYou have no tourist card! please follow me to the office it willcost you fifty dollars eachRyan sighed with relief A qdollars he could soon fixthTwenty minutes later he emerged from the same office, his passpwith the tourist card inside, firmly clasped in his hand He headedpast the baggage delivery point towards the exit where he anticipatedtheras nothingThe automatic doors slide open and he stepped into the sunshinewhere he was surprised by a welcome coee in the form of a lineof exotic girls, dressed in feathers and high cut sequined body suitsshowing off some of the longest legs he had ever seen, flashing their

toothy smiles at the new arrivals One of them handed him arochure and he joined the other somewhat bewildered tourists whowere being dispatched to their different hotelHe felt a new chapter opendestination the hotel casa grandThe airport was not far from the city and as they entered the built upsed by thed before hresembled that of a 1950 Humphrey Bogart film The few cars thathe saw were mostly old American models fromle houses and buildings were seriously dilapidated spanishMexican style The people had a South amek with which heguely familiar from TV news reports and films, though manyof them seemed to be a lot darker skinnedThe people they passed on the streets seemed to bethey did not look miserable or unhappy

Their clothing was correctand clean There seemed to be a lot of older people He noted that thestreets and pavements were remarkably cleanThe hotel was a turn of the century edifice recently renovated andoperated by a French chain At the top of the steps that led up to thearge terrace bar, overlooking a square, where peoplewere seated enjoying drinks amongst potted palmsOn arriving in his room on the third floor, he opened the windowoverlooking the leafy gardens of the square, the heart of the colonialcity, He checked the map in the tourist magazine he had found on theffee table identifying thes Cespedes Park, renamed Pde la reon to the left was the catedral de santa Ifigenia wittwin bell towers and Ren

aissance facade, opposite was thesixteenth century house of Diego VelazquezThe late aftemoon sun shone on the strollers here and therehildren ran frivolously playing their games as do children all overmusicians seated in the shade projected by the broad trees Olderpeople sat on the long stone benches that formed a low walliC, peaceful and relaxed, evidently nothing of

Chapter 3 1 A Voyage of Discoveryhapter 32 TimeshareChapter 33 GuadeloupeChapter 34 a Place in the siChapter 35 AmadisChapter 36 An ArchitectChapter 37 Huberts Real EstateChapter 38 A Cuban BrewerChapter 39 Cuban SugarChapter 40 Playa EsmeraldaChapter 41 A Barter DealChapter 42 PartagasChapter 43 A Pick-up in AntiguaChapter 44 Back in CubaChapter 45 A Visit to ParisChapter 46 OrteChapter 47 Bad MoneyChapter 48 Crime CorruptionChapter 49 The Laundry businessChapter 50 A Finnish SaunaChapter 51 MiamiChapter 52 BaranquillaChapter 53 Cartagena de IndiasChapter 54 In the JungleChapter 55 A Long JourneyChapter 56 BrelChapter 57 The Red ArrowChapter 58 The Sally AnneChapter 60 A CatalanChapter 61 Two FriendsChapter 62 Back in CivilisationChapter 0

JohanssonChapter 64 The Promoters MeetingChapter 65 A Happy InterludeChapter 66 Le Pays Basque

Chapter 67 Thalassohapter 68 Bowled OverChapter 69 Erikkson's SidelineChapter 70 Saint PetersburgChapter 71 RigaChapter 72 YaroslavChapter 73 MoscowChapter 74 A Visit to TampicoChapter 75 A South Sea BubbleChapter 76 A Little InvestigationChapter 78 The Plothapter 79 A Storm BreaksChapter 80 FraudChapter &1 A BalserChapter 82 The RoccadeChapter 83 A TouristChapter 84 A Visit to MountjoyChapter 85 Sheremetyevo MOScowChapter 86 Back in the CaymansChapter 87 Five Years B&BChapter 88 HomeChapter 89 Cayo Cinco BalasPOSTSCRIPTPROLOGUEslands, whether they are separated from the world at large by seas,mountains or deserts, have never ceased to impose thegeographical limits on those who laspirations exceed the limits imposed by their islands, have al waysbeen pushed to fulfil their dreams and hopes in lands beyond theirThis is a story that tells of the ambitions of men, both great and

small, seeking to realise their brief dreams by whatever meansortune had given themEconomic forces, driven by a market frenzy caused by the explosionof the internet and information techted phenomengains in virtual money Atmoney derived from crime and drugs were generated by criminalorganisations, and then processed and legalised through the worldbanking and financial institutionsor those who controlled that vast flood of money, virtual realitywas never so real, close to dreams of empires and palaces on faraway beaches, where the winners could profit from their gainsvirtual or real butChapter 1 Habanagood augur For John Ennis it was nothing more than anamusing anecdote that the baggage porter told to each new arrivalTheir rooms were located on the sixth floor, the whole of which theywere told had been rented year round by Al Capone at the height ofhis infamous career Capone had been just one of the many figures oforganised crime of his time who had been drawn to Cuba by thelawlessness that then reignediod was known as Cubas age of decadence

It was presidedby FBatista Until his election in 1940 as presidentCuba, he had been an important figure in Cuban politics behind aseries of puppet presidents He stepped down four years later, thenafter a period in Florida, he returned to Cuba, where he was againelected as presid952 and 54, presiding over a brutallyoppressive regime After provoking the Castro revolt, Batista fled theland to the dominican Republic December 31, 1958 The followingMobsters such as Lucky' Luciano and his partner the Jewishgodfather, Meyer Lansky were also amongst the Mafiosi who had

controlled hotels and casinos in havana, and what was to becomehalf a century, later the modern tourist resort of VarederoBatista andky were said to have been so close that they werealmost like brothers In 1953, Batista appointed Lanskypersonal advisor on gambling reform The american gangster thenproceeded to transform Havana into a tropical Las vegasThe reign of corruption, gambling and prostitution ended with theflight of Batista and the arrival of theonary FidelCastro Castro installed forty years of fruitless revolution that bleda country that was already in a calamitous situationwith the new millennium, impoverished and in a state of advanceddecay, Cuba was ready for the next infeving of fortunependulum From the nearby mainland and islandsy watchingng, a new deadlier version of organised crime preparedtself for the feast, aided and abetted by the international bankingsystem equipped with the most modern technology and condoned byThe Hotel Sevilla was a splendid edifice bu908

near thehistorical centre of Old Havana, just off the Prado, John ennisbrowsed through the hotel brochure as he sat on the toilet; itdescribed tently renovated hotel in grand style He had togree, both from the external appearance and that of the spaciousobby with its elegant Spanish colonial style furnis get althclassic blue and yellow ceramic floor tiles brilliantly reflight cast by the crystal chandeliers It was certaind, althoughhis initial encounter with the plumbing seemed to indicate that it wasnot only the architecture that was turn of the century moorish styleTheir Air france flight from paris had been uneventful On arrivalthey had been met by a smiling Havanatour representative, who hadthem transferred efficiently to their hoa modern air-conditionedHe together with paul carvin formed a team of noung freelance journalists, who, with nothing better on hand, hadaccepted a reportage for the banque de credit National, a leadingParisian bank, to garner the pages of its quarterly magazine Jol

Ennis handled the journalistic content and Paul Carvin theal vein to their reports, which had won them a modesreputationghted, two weeks all paid in advance inCaribbean sun, after a bitterly cold Parisian winter and a miserablyamp start to theuld not have been more welcomeBusiness had not been exactly booming since the end of the lastMiddle east war and the Indonesian elections they had no desire toget involved in another war zone- much too dangerous Theyreferred good hotels and bars, and specialisedor redevelopment after the crisis The shooting part was for heroesd they had no desire to be the subject of a first page tribute to abloody and quickly forgotten endThey had two objectives in Cuba, first and most important, as itpaid the billsportage for the banks magazine, theBCN Quarterly Review, published for its well heeled gold andplatinum credit card holders, seeking adventure in the comfort of fivestar hotels, cocktails and cigars

Then, secondly, there was thesomewhat remote possibility of a pre-crisis story on the imminentdownsthe castrist revA couple of daysting information from the agence francePress and Reuters databases in Paris had given them a good startingoint They had heard all the usual stories of an exotic Cuba that hadbecome a fashionable destinationfor tourists but alsod political observers as the end of castrbapproached Fashionable it was Its music, cocktails, cigars, sunshineand easy sex What was behind all that? What had become of therevolution and its heroes? was there something brooding behind theWim Wenders smiling imagtable oldtheir wonderful Afro-Cuban rhythms in the smootBuena vista social club? Thatnational and international press Maybe there was a good story to beOf course the Cuban community of Miami, the gusanos, or worms

as Castro liked to call them was informed daily of every event ofpolitical or economic consequence that occurred back home in Cubathe smallest or even most secret piece of information filtered out, inpite of the fact thatommunications had been virtually impossible for ordinary CubansRegular and detailed information on the political situation reachedMiami via the privileged overseas Cubans, who travelled withoutrestrikeularly to and from the island, or, from the tragic bepeople known as balseros, defectors from the revolutionariesaradise, who came from every level of Cuban society, groups ofindividuals and families risking their lives in make-shift boats andafts tryingh the promised land of the mighty dPaul was French and liked to add the qualification 'Pied-noir Hiseen French immigrants or colonists who aftergenerations in Algeria had been forced to quit after that countrysindependence, first to Morocco and then finally back to France,aountry he new little about when he arrived at the age of elevenyears He spokey frenchso fluent Spanish, which hadbeen one of the imported languages of Europes North Africancoloniesohn Ennis, a journalist, had long accepted Paris as his base fronmadic life

the bHDubliner who had learnt to appreciate france andhough both men were professionals with longthem, travelling to almost every corner of the world where news wasthe making they had never made the kind of noteworthyequired to bring thehe big league of star reporters Theywere part of the innumerable faceless men and women who madetheir precarious living filling the pages of the myriads of newspapersd magazine that lined the shelvesw-stands in shops, stationsly other prize for that matterLife had become for thelendless searchexpeniencesnew horizons, and an incessant paper chase, which no longer had anyreal sense another country another hotel, another bar and anothe

efore leaving Paris, they had set out a rough plan for their tripwhich consisted of visiting typical tourist sites and resortrestaurants and bars, not forgetting samplingAs Ennis showered, he remembered the rocambolesque adventuresof jim wormold the vacuum cleaner salesman in graham greenOur Man in Havana The story had started in the veryhotelnamed the Biltmore-Seville, where Wormold met the spy Hawthornein room 501 Cuba had been the inspiration of more than one strangeory, both in the past and the preserand as he attempted to adstruggling with the worn mixer, he heard phone ringingk! he thought it's Paul who was in the next room 619

Hesprobably got his fuckin camera in his hand and ready to gore readPaul laughed Bon, in two minuteknock at your doorPaul never missed the least occasion to record on film for posterityan unforgettable place or face Photography was not just a job forhim, it was a passion, whichbefore almost all othexcept as he insisted -friendship-and even that had to wait fromtime to timeThey studied the city map in the vast cool lobby, where theydmired from a distance the patio bar with its fountain resisting theemptation of a quick drink before leaving the hotel Once out of thehotel they turned right and following the map headed in the directione cathedraIn other circumstances paul carvin could have been confused with amember of an expedition, aborbark on a voyage of discovery,ki and wearing safari boots The worn tunic, whiclfitted snugly over his ample torso, was covered with pockets thatbulged and bristled with all the accessories of at wasen to inform the casual observer that he was dealingwith a professional

Having left the hotel block, the two reporters were surprised by thecrumbling decay of what had been once elegant buildings, which atfirst glance looked picturesque In the streets, ancient, but gailyainted American carsglided past, rolling unevenly overmaze of potholes, they weless than wrecks, which by somemiracie werein running ordeSmiling black girls dressed in fluorescent Lycra shorts and bodyts passed by, theple backsides swayed as they walkedungainly platform shoes Most of the locals seemed to be particulelaxed, some tending to the repair of their cars, others lounging inheir doorways watching the world go by They were much poorerd considerably less Etthan the two newly arrivedIt was 4 o clocke afternoon in Havana and in Europeo clock in the eveningChapter 2 Sonnen reisenthat same moment, John ryan was checking into the SheratonHotel at Frankfurt International Airport

He hauled a regulationsize carry-on bag on wheels He paid cash in advance, mumbling thathe had misplaced his credit card The stiff blonde receptionistchecked his passport and gave him a cold once over as he signed theegistration card He shrugged and decidedwaste his breath onany unlikely explanations He knew only too well that it was unusualinternational travellers not to use pelastic in that class of hotel butFrankfurt he reasoned was accustomed to strange travellers It wouldof thede flap of his wallhe next morning he took breakfast early, checked out and headedacross the foot bridge into the passenger terminal After a seeminglyof checkhedesk he was looking fSonnen Reisen,, Sun Travels, an airport travel agent specialised in