Squeezing Silver is a trial lawyer’s memoir that takes the reader inside the courtroom of one of the most important trials of recent decades. Famed Texas oil billionaire, Nelson Bunker Hunt, along with Saudi royalty, manipulated silver prices in four months in 1979-80 while meeting at thoroughbred horse events, five-star hotels and posh restaurants. When prices spiked from $9 to $51, they pocketed billions while thousands were cheated, including Minpeco, Peru’s minerals agent. Regulators conflicted by their dealings with Bunker failed to stop his “broad daylight conspiracy.” When prices crashed two months later, the Hunt defaults threatened the US economy with collapse.
A federal jury in New York found Bunker Hunt, Mahmoud Fustok, brother-in-law to the future Saudi king, and three other co-defendants liable to Minpeco for $197 million after a six-month jury trial. Merrill Lynch, Bache & Co., ContiCommodity Services and three other major financial institutions settled for $64 million before trial. For those who enjoy a good legal thriller, it provides the twists, turns and insights not found in most legal stories. For those interested in business and the markets, the book recounts the bizarre events and regulatory failures that were the prequel for the 2008 Great Recession. For lawyers in trial practice or in arbitration, it provides stories that are lessons in advocacy, and direct and cross-examination.
Nelson Bunker Hunt strides down the center aisle of the packed courtroom, shoulders back, head up, eyes focused forward. Short, rotund with a pudgy face and sandy hair, he is wearing a gray business suit, presumably tailor-made, although Bunker might be proud to tell you he bought it off the rack. He looks poised. This is the moment the jurors—four women and two men—have been waiting for; they are sitting erect, three of them on the edges of their seats. – Prologue excerpt