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Venezuela & USA: The Bermudez case gets confusing

By Miguel Octavio

11.12.04 | The case of the former Vice-Minister of Finance Jesus Bermudez becomes more intriguing and confusing, like so much of what happens in this "revolution".

Bermudez made bail and was given a wireless bracelet to make sure he sticks around. His partner's wife made bail and he will have a hearing on the 20th. of December according to press reports.

Where things get somewhat tricky is that Bermudez told US authorities that the plane in which he was flying belongs to the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) of which he is a member of the Board of Directors. However, the Venezuelan Government denies that he holds any position in that company and the company owns no planes.

According to press reports the plane is a 1998 Hawker Siddeley that from what I have been able to learn is a two pilot jet, worth some US$ 10 million when new. It is not a small aircraft as initial reports indicated. The jet is in the name of a US company Full Court Aviation, which refused to identify the owner of the jet craft. My sources tell me Bermudez owns the aircraft and visits the US often, always going to the same Opa-Locka airport.

Bermudez entered the US with a diplomatic passport and could be facing jail time. As one of the commenters said in this blog, under the Patriot's Act, Bermudez is considered to be a politically exposed person, which will require him to prove the origin of the funds that he was trying to bring into the US in cash. Moreover, the US Government may ask him to prove the source of funds for any other assets he may have in the US.

The Venezuelan Government is trying to distance itself from Bermudez, however, he rose to Vice-Minister with the Giordani-Rojas-Merentes team and actually left the Ministry while Nóbrega was there. He is considered to be part of the Giordani group. The case is being investigated by the Special Committee of the National Assembly which is presided by Deputy Pedro Carreño of Chávez MVR.

My feeling is this case may explode in the Government's face, as Bermudez was a key figure in the Finance Ministry who will not be able to justify having US$ 40,000 for Christmas gifts and will not be able to leave the US that easily. On top of that he has made too many statements that have turned out apparently not to be true, which the judge may not find to speak well for Mr. Bermudez. Stay tuned.

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