US businessman Jacob Ostreicher escapes Bolivia

Jacob Ostreicher (right) is accompanied by US actor Sean Penn during a press conference in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on 12 December 2013 Jacob Ostreicher (right) has been supported by US actor Sean Penn

Related Stories

An American businessman detained in Bolivia without charge for more than two years has escaped back to the US, officials in both countries say.

Jacob Ostreicher had faced allegations of money laundering linked to a rice-growing business.

Mr Ostreicher, 55, said Bolivian officials had attempted to extort money from him in exchange for his freedom.

Bolivian authorities say 15 people have been arrested in connection with the alleged extortion ring.

An unnamed US state department official told media that Mr Ostreicher had left Bolivia.

A member of his family said he had returned to New York, where he has a flooring business.


Bolivian Justice Minister Cecilia Ayllon told a news conference on Tuesday that Mr Ostreicher had fled to Peru and caught a commercial flight to US, reports AFP news agency.

Mr Ostreicher is said to have spent 18 months in a Bolivian jail and a year under house arrest on suspicion of money laundering in connection with a rice-growing business.

He accused government employees in the South American country of illegally selling 18,000 tons of rice and stealing the business's equipment, worth more than $50m (£30m).

He also alleged Bolivian officials demanded $50,000 to free him from jail.

Mr Ostreicher, an Orthodox Jew, was transported from jail to house arrest one year ago after actor Sean Penn and several US lawmakers appealed to Bolivian President Evo Morales on his behalf.

Mr Penn had reportedly been contacted by an organisation that aids Jewish prisoners.

Bolivian authorities, including a judge, prosecutors and lower-level officials, were later implicated in the alleged shake-down scheme, according to media reports.

Several officials in Bolivia said they did not know Mr Ostreicher's whereabouts.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories


Features & Analysis

  • Signposts showing the US and UK flagsAn ocean apart

    How British misunderstanding of the US is growing

  • Before and after shotsPerfect body

    Just how reliable are 'before and after' photos?

  • Mukesh SinghNo remorse

    Delhi bus rapist says victim shouldn't have fought back

  • A cow wearing sunglasses overlaid with the phrase 'Can't touch this'Cow row

    Thousands rally against the ban on beef in India

Elsewhere on the BBC


  • Former al-Qaeda double agent Aimen DeanHARDtalk Watch

    Islamic State is about revenge says former al-Qaeda member turned spy Aimen Dean

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.