Chavez moves Venezuela's wealth offshore, part II
By Kenneth Rijock, Financial Crime Consultant
23.02.06 | In our previous story, we described the worldwide covert financial activities of the Chavez government in acquiring banks in Switzerland and Lebanon, and exposed his master money launderer, Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco. Due to numerous requests for more details, we will further examine the regime’s efforts to place Venezuela’s wealth out of the reach of its people, and squarely in the absolute control of Hugo Chavez Frias.
First, the long-planned arrangement between Venezuela and Iran to place government-owned banks in each other’s capital has become public knowledge. The news was released to the public as a “study” for a possible branch, though the final decision had been made as a part of secret contractual agreements between the two countries. The Superintendent of Banking and Other Financial Institutions, or SUDEBAN, Trino Alcidez Diaz, has confirmed that Banco Industrial de Venezuela will open a branch in Teheran, and Iran’s Bank Commerce will open in Caracas.
We’re beginning to see a money laundering scheme here; remember, BIV and Banco Exterior de Cuba are also opening branches in Havana and Caracas, respectively. With the Teheran branch, the Beirut bank and when the Swiss bank purchase is complete, Chavez will have constructed an effective financial network totally outside the US and the European Union. He will have the ability to transfer and place funds illegally removed from the national treasury and stolen PDVSA receipts quickly and efficiently, and without passing through the financial centers of New York or London, where they could be frozen and seized by the authorities, acting on behalf of the representatives of a democratic Venezuela.
Add that to the elaborate and secret network constructed for Chavez by Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco in the Caribbean and European tax haven countries, and one begins to appreciate the thought which went into what is effectively a one-way pipeline.
As if that’s not enough to worry about, he has access to the entire Venezuela foreign reserves held overseas. While the public knows that $20 billion was realized when Venezuela liquidated its investments in US treasury securities, and moved its reserves to Switzerland, it does not know that Senor Chavez now has total control over these funds, awarded to him by his allies in the Central Bank. Will these funds be diverted to known terrorist groups, or to further the Bolivarian revolution in Latin America? We cannot say, but these funds bear close watching.
What we have seen is a combination of a seamless money laundering network, operating outside normal channels when necessary, and a potential blank-check for the entire foreign reserve accounts held overseas, where Chavez has the checkbook.
More details will appear as our investigation continues.
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