Dick Hanscom forwarded a fascinating article from the Daily Mail about the 1985 murder of the head of Deak-Perera, the high-profile currency and precious metals firm know in the numismatic arena for its extensive advertising.
Nearly 30 years after a former CIA money changer was murdered by a homeless bag lady, new details have emerged that suggest he may actually have been assassinated.
Nicholas L. Deak was nicknamed the 'James Bond of money,' for his suave, confident air and his central role in the 'black ops' world of clandestine CIA operations from World War II until the 1980s.
Following the war, the CIA helped him found Deak-Perera as a front company to help it move money around the world, funding armed coups and friendly regimes, all while insulating the US government.
Deak, a Ph.D. economist, also built it into a legitimate bank, offering foreign currency trades - including American families who often bought its bundled packs of French francs and German marks.
But in 1985, when 80-year-old Deak and his secretary were shot at close range by Lois Lang, his company had been investigated for laundering money and the CIA had abandoned him.
To read the complete article, see:
Was CIA financier-turned Wall Street banker assassinated by the bearded bag lady? New evidence may solve mystery of 1985 shooting
Here's an excerpt from the Salon.com article the Daily Mail took their story from.
Deak-Perera had been headquartered on the building’s 20th and 21st floors since the late 1960s. Nick Deak, known as “the James Bond of money,” founded the company in 1947 with the financial backing of the CIA. For more than three decades the company had functioned as an unofficial arm of the intelligence agency and was a key asset in the execution of U.S. Cold War foreign policy. From humble beginnings as a spook front and flower import business, the firm grew to become the largest currency and precious metals firm in the Western Hemisphere, if not the world. But on this day in November, the offices were half-empty and employees few. Deak-Perera had been decimated the year before by a federal investigation into its ties to organized crime syndicates from Buenos Aires to Manila. Deak’s former CIA associates did nothing to interfere with the public takedown. Deak-Perera declared bankruptcy in December 1984, setting off panicked and sometimes violent runs on its offices in Latin America and Asia.
Lois Lang had been watching 29 Broadway for two hours when a limousine dropped off Deak and his son Leslie at the building’s revolving-door rear entrance. They took the elevator to the 21st floor, where Lauder informed Deak about the odd visitor. Deak merely shrugged and was settling into his office when he heard a commotion in the reception room. Lang had returned. Frances Lauder let out a fearful “Oh—” shortened by two bangs from a .38 revolver. The first bullet missed. The second struck the secretary between the eyes and exited out the back of her skull.
Deak, fit and trim at age 80, bounded out of his office. “What was that?” he shouted. Lang saw him and turned the corner with purpose, aiming the pistol with both arms. When she had Deak in her sights, she froze, transfixed. “It was as if she’d finally found what she was looking for,” a witness later testified. Deak seized the pause to lunge and grab Lang’s throat with both hands, pressing his body into hers. She fired once next to Deak’s ear and missed wide, before pushing him away just enough to bring the gun into his body and land a shot above his heart. The bullet ricocheted off his collarbone and shredded his organs.
Deak crumbled onto the floor. “Now you’ve got yours,” said Lang. A witness later claimed she took out a camera and snapped photographs of her victim’s expiring body. The bag lady then grabbed the banker by the legs, dragged him into his office, and shut the door.
Lois Lang was tried, convicted and institutionalized under the assumption that she was mad. According to state psychiatrists, she targeted Deak because of random delusions, and her handlers were figments of her cracked imagination. The first judge to hear Lang’s case ruled her unfit for trial and sent her to Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center. She was sentenced eight years later, in 1993, when a state Supreme Court justice convicted her on two counts of second-degree murder and sent her to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility upstate, where she remains. Conspiracy was never part of the trial.
Arkadi Kuhlmann has long scoffed at the court’s conclusion. Kuhlmann, then 35 and newly in charge of Deak-Perera’s Canadian operations, became CEO after Deak’s death. Like his Deak-Perera colleagues, he understood that many criminal account holders had lost millions when the firm went bankrupt in 1984. Deak’s subsequent murder, he felt, was no coincidence.
“I never believed that the whole thing was random,” said Kuhlmann, in an interview with Salon. Ditto the government inquiry that triggered the collapse preceding Lang’s rampage. “We were the CIA’s paymaster, and that got to be a little bit embarrassing for them,” he said. “Our time had passed and the usefulness of doing things our way had vanished. The world was changing in the ’80s; you couldn’t just accept bags of cash. Deak was slow at making those changes. And when you lose your sponsorship, you’re out of the game.”
To read the complete article, see:
James Bond and the killer bag lady
Wayne Homren, Editor
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