Bribery network in Petróleos de Venezuela paid $30 million in Andorra to a company manager | international

Bribery network in Petróleos de Venezuela paid $30 million in Andorra to a company manager |  international
Former Venezuelan Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramirez (left) with Hugo Chavez, in 2008, in Caracas.Photo by AFP/Thomas Coeks

The network of former Deputy Ministers in the government of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) investigated the charging of kickbacks to companies for prizes from their country’s main state company, Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), and paid $30.6 million. Eudomario Carruyo was this company’s chief financial officer between 2005 and 2011, according to documents he was able to access from EL PAÍS.

Carruyo raised this money at Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) between 2008 and 2010, when he was part of the energy company’s leadership. The money came through transfers from Nerves Villalobos, the former Venezuelan Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum; Diego Salazar, cousin of former Energy Secretary and former PDVSA President, Rafael Ramirez; and Luis Carlos de Leon, a former lawyer for the oil company.

The payments were justified as consulting work provided by Carruyo to the group of former presidents and closed through “oral contracts”. False advisory services were one plot in the plot that PDVSA looted to justify its commissions, according to investigators.

A court in Andorra tried Villalobos, Salazar and de Leon in 2018 for allegedly belonging to a network of 28 people that collected bribes from companies that awarded the PDVSA Millionaire Awards between 2007 and 2012. the plot Hide your benefits – 2000 million dollars – in Andorra, the country then protected by bank secrecy.

Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA) account client knowledge document associated with former PDVSA CFO Eudomario Carruyo.
Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) account client knowledge document associated with former PDVSA CFO Eudomario Carruyo.

Carruyo received $30.6 million through a BPA account in the name of his Panamanian company Biford Investments SA, in which he appeared as an actor with his wife, Nancys Jacibis Perozo de Carruyo. The former PDVSA manager opened this deposit for alleged utility bills from his Venezuelan engineering company, Lugo Enterprise.

Thus, Carruyo received $10.4 million from Panamanian companies controlled by former Vice Minister Villalobos Lomond Overseas SA (5.5 million), Monterrey Management Limited (3.1) and Tristaina Trading SA (1.8). He also received $15.1 million from Highland Assets Corp, a company owned by Luis Mariano Rodriguez Cabello, the alleged front man of Diego Salazar, nephew of former Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez. and two million from a BPA account in the name of the Panamanian company Worldwide Traders Line SA linked to Salazar and his wife, Rosicilla Diaz Gil.

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Luis Carlos de Leon, a former attorney for PDVSA, paid 2.9 million between 2009 and 2010 to Carruyo through Cano Navy Corp, his Panamanian firm that has an account in BPA.

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Money from the conspiracy reached accounts at Carruyo’s BPA in the form of internal transfers, a system that leaves no trace. And after landing in the Andorran entity, it was transferred to other overseas deposits of the former PDVSA Chief Financial Officer. Thus, Carroyo transferred $20.1 million in June 2011 to an account in a Dubai bank controlled by his 34-year-old niece, Venezuelan Katrina SB. It transferred 6.5 million in April 2010 to a deposit in a Swiss bank where it was listed as a beneficiary.

The former PDVSA CFO told the entity that it decided to cancel its five BPA accounts after that bank appeared in press information. “[Carruyo] And the Andorran financial institution indicated in an internal document that he did not want to take any risks.

Andorran’s Financial Intelligence Unit (Uifand) concluded in a July 2020 report that Carroyo used his niece Katrina S.P. as a front man on two BPA accounts. These are the deposits linked to the Panamanian companies Welnut Overseas SA and the Terrystone Foundation that directed the multimillionaire’s flow of money pumped by the conspiracy.

A member of the politician’s family acknowledged in an affidavit that her uncle was the true owner of the money.

Carroyo’s ploy was to use his niece on his Andorra accounts, according to investigators, aimed at preventing the bank from closing the deposits of the former oil company director due to his politically exposed person (PEP) status, a designation. To identify public officials, officials or former leaders at risk of receiving funds tainted by corruption.

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Andorran investigators question the source of the money Carroyo entered into the business partnership agreement and suspect that the engineering and civil works company that supposedly produced the money – Lugo Enterprise – had any real business. They also criticize the alleged contracts with which the former oil company CEO tried to justify his millionaire income. “The work submitted, the payments agreed and the amounts are unknown,” said the Yuevand report.

Investigations also raise doubts about the origin of the 30.6 million who fell into the constellation of Karuyo accounts.

Uifand asserts that the former manager used the account in BPA where he collected this amount as a “bridge”, and a gateway to making money later on to other deposits. Thus, his account in the name of Biford Investments SA received 11.5 million in 2010 from the Chavista network and sent 11.2 million to another account of the former PDVSA director in the Andorran entity in the name of the Panamanian company Orfield Foundation SA

A report incorporated into the summary — investigations that began in 2012 and now total more than 76,000 documents — frames Carrillo’s BPA’s income into the movements of an alleged criminal organization that was profiting from its closeness to former CEO Chavez. The document notes that “Venezuelan politicians would have collected bribes in order to facilitate PDVSA contracts for foreign companies.”

The thesis coincides with the one presented by Andorran magistrate Kanalek Mingorance in September 2018 in the order in which it was Address 28 members of this organization. The decision presented the network as a group made up of former Venezuelan leaders and officials of the state energy company that charged commissions of more than 10% from companies, mainly Chinese, that later secured PDVSA contracts.

The whereabouts of Karuyo, who has been linked to various derivatives of the PDVSA loot, has been unknown for years.

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Ismael Oliver, a lawyer for former Venezuelan minister Nerves Villalobos, defends that his client “has not committed any act of bribery, corruption or money laundering in any country”. It states that the former president “has not been convicted by any court”. “All operations undertaken by Mr. Villalobos at BPA, its subsidiary Banco de Madrid or any financial entity have been expressly reviewed and supervised by the Banking Regulatory Compliance Department and are legal,” Oliver responds to this newspaper by email.

However, investigations indicate that the conspiracy moved the flow of money that went into Andorra through a complex tuft of opaque accounts and influential companies – without activity – in tax havens such as Switzerland or Belize.

The Venezuelan Public Prosecutor’s Office estimated the looting of the state oil company committed by the network at 4,200 million euros. Besides former Deputy Minister Villalobos, the organization included Javier Alvarado, the powerful former Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum and director between 2007 and 2010 of the National Electric Corporation (Corbuelec). A former president who is being investigated in Spain and the United States, and who was arrested in Madrid in 2019 at the request of a Texas court, claimed that he was accused of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money. A US judge is investigating a corruption case worth more than $50 million linked to a Venezuelan energy company.

An internal investigation of PDVSA’s current directors found that the former directors of this company defrauded the company of, at least, $500 million. The method was to award physical self-purchase contracts to their own companies. To do this, they allegedly rigged bids and laundered their loot in Spain. Of the 48,000 contracts examined between 2009 and 2015, a total of 2,562 went to companies owned by Roberto Rincon Fernandez and Abraham Chiera. PDVSA filed a complaint against both in Spain.

The complaint is also directed against Rafael Reiter, Javier Alvarado and nine other people. The complaint is heard by the National Court. Many of those investigated reside in Spain, where they acquired millions of properties.

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Aygen Marsh

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