Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Craig David Biography - Became Teenage MC to Herman Edwards Biography » Remedios Díaz-Oliver: 1938—: Entrepreneur Biography - Found Opportunity In United States, Success Marred By Legal Troubles, Continued To Help Others

Remedios Díaz-Oliver: 1938—: Entrepreneur - Success Marred By Legal Troubles

wheaton aic company companies

Díaz-Oliver credited her Spanish mother with her determination. In her conversation with Miller, she recalled her mother teaching her that "the only way you can succeed in life is by working hard." In 1976, when Richford Industries was sold to a division of Alco Standard Corp., she left and founded American International Container (AIC) with her husband, Fausto, and glass manufacturer, Frank H. Wheaton, Jr.; she became the new company's president. Wheaton gave her $50,000 to launch AIC and verbally agreed on a 50-50 partnership. Wheaton Industries was Richford's top supplier of bottles and containers. "I could have started the distributorship on my own, but with Frank I thought I would have national connections—really worldwide connections. Many times Frank was called Mr. Glass," Díaz-Oliver told Miami Herald reporters Mimi White-field and Barbara DeLollis. AIC's rapid growth bore out her abilities as an executive. The company grew from $800,000 in sales its first year to an astounding $90 million in revenues in 1991. In that year South Florida Business Journal placed AIC 33rd on its list of top privately owned companies. Díaz-Oliver's abilities also caught the attention of other companies, which enlisted her for their supervisory boards. At one time she was the only Florida woman to be a board member of three Fortune 500 companies simultaneously: Avon Products, Inc., U.S. West Inc., and Barnett Banks (Bank of America). Furthermore, she took part in elite events. She chaired a ball honoring Dynasty's Joan Collins for the American Cancer Society in 1983; represented former President George Bush at South American inaugurations; was in a group that met with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1989; attended a dinner aboard the royal yacht for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1991; and was recognized by Hispanic Business magazine as one of the nation's most influential Hispanics, and her family, with a net worth of $25 million, as one of the wealthiest Hispanic families in America, in 1997.

However, in 1991 Díaz-Oliver may have thought a hex had been put on her charmed life. Unhappy with the performance of Wheaton Industries, some of Frank Wheaton, Jr.'s relatives started investigating his handling of company operations. What they found out caused them to oust him, and later Díaz-Oliver. Their investigation revealed that, contrary to what Díaz-Oliver had been claiming for years, she did not own American International, nor did she even own half the company, because she never signed a written contract with Wheaton. Moreover, the investigation revealed business irregularities, including more than $1 million off the books, the use of company money to pay for personal expenses and contributions to charitable and political causes, and shell companies. Díaz-Oliver provided explanations for all the irregularities. She said it was common practice for Wheaton executives to use company money and resources for personal expenses instead of drawing a large salary; her 1991 salary was only $75,000. As for claiming full ownership of AIC and setting up shell companies, she did that because some companies wouldn't do business with a Wheaton subsidiary.

Explanations not withstanding, AIC's new management charged Díaz-Oliver and her family and friends with embezzling $3.5 million while she ran the company. She and her husband countered by suing Wheaton Industries and ten of its executives for $50 million for slander. The legal wrangling caught the attention of federal investigators, who uncovered fraudulent bank accounts and records believed to have been set up to avoid paying customs duties and taxes. At the heart of the investigation was the now-defunct Spanish Foods Inc., whose minority shareholders were Díaz-Oliver's son and a longtime friend. The scheme involved claiming phony business expenses to hide some revenues from the IRS and the submitting of phony invoices to U.S. Customs to deflate the true value of goods being imported from Spain. The probe resulted in an 18-count felony indictment against Díaz-Oliver, as well as charges against her husband and others.

Determined to continue in a business she knew thoroughly, Díaz-Oliver, her husband, and two children formed All American Containers, Inc. (AAC) in 1991. Under her guidance as president and CEO, AAC secured accounts with McCormick, Schering, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, and other large companies and set up a marketing network reaching into Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, the company sells more than five thousand different types of glass, plastic, and metal containers and caps to manufacturers.

As she built AAC, Díaz-Oliver lured many AIC employees back into her fold and engaged in years of litigation. In 1995 she dropped her slander suit against Wheaton in return for being able to buy AIC for $3.7 million. At the time it was valued at more than $11 million. After the settlement Díaz-Oliver started selling Wheaton bottles again. Son Fausto is president of AIC, which remains a separate company that competes with AAC. In 1999 another of Díaz-Oliver's legal problems was settled when federal prosecutors dropped their 18-count indictment against her and allowed her to plead guilty to two misdemeanors. She received three years probation for her part in customs fraud and tax evasion in connection with Spanish Foods. Her plea, however, unexpectedly garnered national attention and embarrassed the presidential campaign of Texas Governor George W. Bush when reporters revealed she was the host of a fund-raiser in Florida.

Remedios Díaz-Oliver: 1938—: Entrepreneur - Continued To Help Others [next] [back] Remedios Díaz-Oliver: 1938—: Entrepreneur - Found Opportunity In United States

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or

Vote down Vote up

about 6 years ago

told ya, another crook associated with George Bush. These cubans are so luckly, she got off very easy.