Nicolas Louis Deák (8 October 1905, Hátszeg, Transylvania, Hungary (now Hațeg, Romania) — 18 November 1985, New York City, US) was a Hungarian-born American banker, chairman of the Deak-Perera group and a secret service operative, serving both in the OSS during World War II and its successor the CIA during the Cold War.[1][2]

Deak earned a Ph.D. from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in 1929. In 1939 he came to New York to open Deak & Company, a foreign exchange business. During World War II he worked for the Office of Strategic Services, serving in Egypt, Burma, Thailand and Malaya. In 1946 he returned to New York and resumed his business, subsequently acquiring Perera U.S., Inc. His business expanded into banking and dealing in gold coins and bullion.[3]

His worldwide financial group, spanning both legitimate enterprises and fronts for CIA operations, was shaken in the late '70s and early '80s by multiple scandals involving money laundering and criminal connections. In 1984, Deak & Co. faced allegations from the President's Commission on Organized Crime that they laundered money for Latin American drug traffickers, facilitated the Lockheed bribery scandals, and smuggled currency from the Philippines.[4][5][6][7] As a result, Deak & Co. declared bankruptcy in December 1984 in order to reorganize.[4][8] In 1985, the company was purchased by a Singapore lawyer for $52 million — the most valued asset was Deak's Swiss bank.[9][10] In 1986, the foreign exchange and gold business was sold to Australia's Martin Properties Ltd. (later renamed Deak Morgan[11]) for $12 million.[12][13][14] In the following year, the company was transferred to New Zealand based NZI and expanded its gold coin dealerships by one-third.[15] At the same time, Deak Investor Services, Inc. changed its name to Deak International Goldline Ltd.

On November 18, 1985, a mentally unstable and homeless woman, Lois Lang, entered Deak's office and shot and killed both Deak and his receptionist. Lang was arrested and tried in court. She had claimed that she was a part owner of Deak & Co. and said that she had suffered some injustice from the company. She was initially institutionalized at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, but later sent to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. Because of Deak's work for the intelligence community and the company's involvement with money laundering some theories have been suggested that Deak was targeted for assassination.[16]

References edit

  1. ^ Sterngold, James (November 19, 1985). "Entrepreneur With Old-World Charm". The New York Times. p. Section B, Page 5, Column 1. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  2. ^ "Nicholas Deak shot to death in New York office" (Paid access). American Banker. November 19, 1985. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  3. ^ "Shooting Victim was Scholar and Former Intelligence Agent" Observer-Reporter November 19, 1985 [1]
  4. ^ a b Kirstof, Nicholas D. (December 10, 1984). "Collapse of Deak & Company". The New York Times. p. D1. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  5. ^ "Deak Faces Charges of Smuggling". The New York Times. October 20, 1977. p. 89. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ "Arms Smuggling to Japan Halted". The New York Times. March 26, 1976. p. 8. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ Szulc, Ted (April 10, 1976). "The Money Changer". The New Republic. pp. 10–13. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ Sudo, Philip T. (December 11, 1984). "Deak & Co. seeks protection under bankruptcy code". American Banker. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  9. ^ "Deal Appears Set For Deak's Bank". The New York Times. August 7, 1985. p. D4. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  10. ^ "Deak-Perera: A New Chief". The New York Times. September 5, 1985. p. D30. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  11. ^ Ellis, Eric (January 15, 1987). "Deak Seeks To Restore Its Hong Kong Fame". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  12. ^ Cuff, Daniel L.; Gilpin, Kenneth N. (May 8, 1986). "Deak Official Is Eager To Get Back in Business". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  13. ^ "Deak Chooses New President". The New York Times. May 6, 1986. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  14. ^ Sudo, Phillip T. (May 7, 1986). "Deak & Co. emerges from chapter 11 under control of Australian company; new organization to focus on strengths of foreign exchange and precious metals". American Banker. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  15. ^ Jorgensen, Bud (September 8, 1987). "Deak chief executive firm's biggest asset". The Globe and Mail. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  16. ^ Mark Ames and Alexander Zaitchik (2012-12-02), James Bond and the killer bag lady