The Case of the Welched Reward
Spies, the FBI and Pursuit of Peru's Most Infamous Fugitive
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Reward takes the reader behind the scenes of an international manhunt and an unusual lawsuit that rattled law enforcement in three countries. The story is born out of a real-life spy thriller--the flight of Peru's notorious National Security chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who was accused of many crimes. The lawsuit, Jose Guevara v. Republic of Peru, was brought by a Venezuelan spy who claimed Peru's $5 million reward after he was caught in an FBI sting attempting to extort a Miami banker to release Montesinos' dirty money. The next day, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez triumphantly announced Montesinos' capture and extradition to Peru. What happened in Guevara's jail cell is an untold story that is the key to whether Guevara earned Peru's reward. Cymrot took over Peru’s defense after the U.S. Court of Appeals had rebuked Peru for "welch[ing]"--reneging—on its promise to pay Guevara the reward. He uncovered a story that “read like the latest spy thriller,” according to the court’s second opinion. As this tense story unfolds, Reward provides insights for courtroom spectators into the art of persuasion, strategies for cross-examination, and storytelling.
REVIEWS and WORDS OF PRAISE
Mark Cymrot's book is a cross between a John Grisham thiller and counsel's skeleton arguement. Read entire review, Riveting account of international spy drama. The Law Society Gazette, p34 (19-May-2023)
In this nonfiction work, Cymrot, a lawyer, recounts a peculiar case in which a Venezuelan spy sued the nation of Peru.
In the 1990s, Vladimiro Montesinos served as Peru’s “infamous spymaster,” the country’s national security chief under President Alberto Fujimori. When Montesinos was accused of extrajudicial killings, bribery, drug trafficking, and much more, he fled Peru, and despite the dogged efforts of Peruvian authorities, he proved to be a remarkably elusive man. When he was finally found in Venezuela in 2001, Venezuelan spy Jose Guevara claimed that he was responsible for Montesinos’ capture—in his account, he had furnished the man’s whereabouts to the authorities, entitling him to a $5 million reward offered by the Peruvian Cabinet in an emergency decree. Peru claimed he did not satisfy the conditions of the reward. Guevara sued Peru in a United States court. The author, who has 20 years of professional experience in Peru, represented the country. With impressive clarity, Cymrot unravels this exceedingly complex case; a central issue was determining whether a foreign national with no ties to the United States could sue another nation in its courts. An early judgment in the case was astonishingly hostile to Peru and seemed an unhappy omen for its legal prospects (per the United States Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit: “Anything that makes it easier for countries to welch on their promises to pay for information decreases the real value of any reward they offer and makes it less likely that an offer will be accepted”). The author lucidly limns the extraordinary details of Montesinos’ capture as well as the grim history of Peru under Fujimori’s often brutal tenure as president. A fascinating blend of history, legal drama, and espionage thriller, Cymrot’s story is as engrossing as it is historically illuminating. The author is a talented storyteller—he painstakingly documents every relevant detail but never at the expense of the larger narrative.
A captivating account of a spectacular legal drama.
--Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2023.
In his latest book, attorney Mark Cymrot takes readers on a personal journey to the front lines of an international legal battle brimming with suspense and intrigue. From the streets of Lima, Peru to the courtrooms of Miami, the gifted attorney is locked between his quest for justice and the rules of the game, as he pushes through a thicket of obstacles, making his moment of victory quite memorable. This is a true adventure story spiced with the plot twists, dodgy characters, and marvelous intricacy of a mystery novel.
Ann Hagedorn, former Wall Street Journal staff writer and award-winning author of six narrative nonfiction books, including Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away.
Reward was so compelling I read it from cover to cover without putting it down. Terrorism, spies, bribery, FBI agents, chiefs of state, politicians, and bankers became part of Peru’s history during the events that became part of the lawsuit Jose Guevara v. Republic of Peru. Mark Cymrot proves that he is not only a great lawyer fighting until the end to win a case but also to be a great writer and a historian.
Jose Abramovitz, Peru's Vice Minister of Energy (1985-86), President of Peru's Negotiating Committee for New Oil Contracts, Senior Advisor to Peru's Minister of Interior (2008-09)
A fascinating and well-told tale of real-life intrigue involving spies, foreign governments, terrorism, and transnational litigation from a U.S. litigator's unique perspective.
David P. Stewart, Professor from Practice, Georgetown University Law Center, co-Reporter, Restatement (Fourth) Foreign Relations Law of the United States (2018)
...I was enthralled by how Mark navigated the political and legal tightrope in succeeding in thwarting Jose Guevara's attempt to collect Peru's reward. This wonderful read tells how law, politics and public relations all play a factor in litigating cases, particularly cases that attract international interest....
Johnine P. Barnes, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Chair, Washington D.C. Labor and Employment Group
A fascinating blend of history, legal drama, and espionage thriller, Cymrot’s story is as engrossing as it is historically illuminating. The author is a talented storyteller—he painstakingly documents every relevant detail but never at the expense of the larger narrative.
---Kirkus Reviews (April 2023)
About the Author
Mark leads Baker Hostetler's International Arbitration and Litigation team, which Chambers Global ranks as Band 1, Highly Regarded, and co-leads the Global Fraud and International Asset Tracing and Recovery team, which has been recognized by Legal 500 and Who's Who Legal. He is highly regarded as an international arbitrator. He is an adviser at the American Law Institute, Restatement (Fourth) of Foreign Relations Law and a member of the Advisory Board to the President, CPR International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution. Mark is the author of Squeezing Silver: Peru's Trial Against Nelson Bunker Hunt (Twelve Tables Press 2018), and he has published more than 30 articles on litigation and arbitration issues.