ANDORRA: Prodigal Returns

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The tiny republic of Andorra (pop. 6,400), a green country of shepherds and smugglers high in the Pyrenees, has never pretended to keep up with the times. Not until two years ago did Andorra's 24-man Council of the Valleys get around to rescinding its 1914 declaration of war on Germany. Andorra's few state documents are kept in a giant oak closet at the government house, the Casa de la Vail. Since every Andorran is deemed honest, the government's money is apt to be lying about anywhere.

Despite this disdain for modern bureaucratic technique, Andorra's government rocked along smoothly enough until one day in December 1958, when somebody left $168,000—two-thirds of the entire Andorran treasury—lying in a cupboard drawer in the Casa de la Vail. Next day the cupboard was bare. Also missing was Ramon Riberaygua, 36, scion of a leading family and secretary of the Council of the Valleys, who on frequent visits to Spain had developed an un-Andorran taste for luxury. He kept a mistress in Barcelona and enjoyed paying big tips at the Hotel Ritz to have himself paged when the dining room was full.

Two months ago, after squandering the treasury's pesetas all the way from Madrid to Bogota, Colombia, Riberaygua finally slipped back to Andorra, shamefaced and dead broke, to face the music. Last week, as he lounged around home at provisional liberty, Andorra's elders informally let drop their intentions: Riberaygua will probably go scot-free. After all. the Riberaygua family had almost gone bankrupt paying back what Ramon had stolen. Anyway, the four-cell jail in the Casa de la Vail might lose its appeal for tourists if it were cluttered up with a prisoner.