I have rarely been so surprised by a news story as I was by this article in El Mundo, from Madrid. I’ll translate the key portions, but if you can handle a bit of ye olde español please click through and read it there. I’m sure many people contributed to this crackdown but one of the few to put name and face to his criticisms of this group of alleged thieves has been Alek Boyd. Dude, take a bow.
Chavista bigwigs investigated for laundering in Banco Madrid
…Police sources assure El Mundo that a dossier in the hands of the Anti-Money Laundering Commission touches on at least three ex-deputy ministers of Venezuela, the ex-intelligence chief, an ex-executive of the state oil company PDVSA, and a businessman considered close to Chávez, who has handled funds in Spain that allegedly derived from massive bribes in exchange for contracts from the Venezuelan regime.
All these Venezuelan bigwigs appear in the list of clients discovered in the Spanish affiliate of the Banca Privat d’Andorra (BPA), without the entity having taken necessary measures to avoid money laundering, a very grave compliance failure under Spanish law…
The Spanish investigation goes beyond information released Monday by FinCEN, the anti-laundering unit in the USA, and gives specific names showing that at least part of the Bolivarian regime’s power structure took advantage of its position of power to do business for itself, behind the back of the pueblo. The US statement said “BPA facilitated transfers in the amount of $4.2 billion” related to Venezuelan public corruption. It didn’t give names.
According to police sources, among the clients at Banco Madrid were the former Deputy Minister of Energy Nervis Gerardo Villalobos. The Spanish investigation connects him with companies in Madeira and the Virgin Islands and he is considered close to Venezuela’s current UN ambassador, the former president of the giant state oil company, Rafael Ramírez…
According to the investigation, Villalobos received “consulting payments” from the Spanish company Duro Felguera, which was chosen in May 2009 for a 1.5 billion-euro contract to build a combined-cycle power plant to provide power to Caracas.
The president of the company that oversaw the contracting, Electricidad de Caracas, and deputy minister of electrical development, was Javier Alvarado Ochoa… The police sources considered it unheard of that Banco Madrid didn’t communicate with Sepblac [Spain’s anti-laundering organization] nor undertake a special examination of these clients. The board of the bank and the bank itself have been reprimanded for serious and very serious offenses [for failing to report possible money-laundering]…
The insurance businessman Omar Farias also appears in the group… Farias ran the Spanish branch of the company Inversiones Porbónica.
In the Sepblac investigations, Farias appears as a key person with possible B accounts in Banco Madrid related with possible shady foreign dealings of the regime. The Spanish entity managed to block a 13-million [euro] operation realized by Farias, but didn’t undertake any investigation, according to sources familiar with the Sepblack dossier, which was presented last Monday to members of the board of Banco Madrid.
The mix of business and regime contacts is personified by another client of Banco Madrid, Carlos Luis Aguilera Borjas, ex-director of security for the government. In Spain, Borjas administered the company CLAB-Consultoría Inmobiliaria and is also one of the main shareholders and board members of Constructora Girardot 53, one of the companies that was blessed in the last decade with contracts to work on the Metro de Caracas, while Chávez was president.
The Spanish investigation is looking into relations between Aguilera and Spanish companies that received large contracts in the Metro de Caracas. In 2008, the Unión Temporal de Empresas (UTE) formed by CAF, Cobra, Constructora Hispánica and the company Dimetronic managed to receive a contract to remodel Line 1 of the metro in the capital for 1.4 billion euros…
Also from Chávez’s security apparatus is another Banco Madrid client, ex Deputy Minister Alcides Rondón.
It is one of the cases where the bank failed to exercise its required [due diligence]… It’s the same in the case of Francisco Rafael Jiménez Villarroel, ex-representative of PDVSA, also when Rafael Ramírez was in charge.
Yes, among those named are Nervis Villalobos, long alleged to be associated with various companies that overcharged Venezuela for electricity generating equipment; Duro Felguera, partner in one of the biggest gold-plated projects; Javier Alvarado, who aside from being head of EDC and Bariven at times is also father of a Bolichico; and a member of the illustrious Rondón family, which includes Rafael Ramírez’s wife (Beatriz Sanso Rondón de Ramírez) and Venezuela’s most powerful man, Diosdado Cabello Rondón.
Not much to add here except that this humble website did the only interview I’ve ever seen with Nervis Villalobos in which anyone asked him directly about alleged corruption. He denied it. Go take a look. (Read the comments, too.)
Oh also, the El Mundo article makes repeated mention of Otto Reich’s lawsuit in the US in which he specifically said that Alvarado’s son was involved in acts of corruption as part of Derwick Associates, the company that was remarkably successful at negotiating deals with the allegedly corrupt electricity industry in Venezuela. When Reich first sued, I was skeptical about how well his case would do. It’s doing pretty well. Derwick has gotten some charges thrown out, but the case is moving ahead, with lots of discovery. The recent court filings have mostly been a long back and forth of sealed documents. But what’s clear at this point is that someone, somewhere is taking notice of corruption in Venezuela’s electricity sector, and it’s not working out too well for those who collaborated with multi-billion-dollar extractions of Venezuelan wealth.