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Hugo Chavez moves Venezuela's wealth offshore

By Kenneth Rijock

21.02.06 | The Venezuelan government is engaged in a massive money laundering operation, the object of which is obvious: to set up a pipeline with which to transfer’s Venezuela’s billions of dollars of oil profits overseas for Chavez and corrupt members of the “Bolivarian Elite.” Chavez has a good model for their endeavor; Cuba’s Fidel Castro and senior Cuban officials are reputed to have millions of dollars in accounts in Panama, Brazil, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries. Castro himself is believed to be a billionaire.

While all the details remain unknown, the facts to date demonstrate a concerted effort to establish a secret financial structure to hold funds looted from PDVSA receipts, and the national treasury. What is known so far:

- Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco, a known front for the Chavez family, has opened dozens of offshore accounts in the tax havens of the world, both in the Caribbean and in Europe. His business organization, the Proarepa Group, is in truth and in fact owned by Chavez and his immediate family.

- The Swiss private bank, Vontobel, which operates an unlicensed facility in Caracas, has seen senior Venezuelan military officers depositing large sums lately. When contacted by a prospective depositor using Fernandez Barrueco as a reference, the bank manager advised that Fernandez was a valued customer. Curiously enough, the bank does not list Venezuela as one of its branch locations. Vontobel is the designated recipient for “commissions” diverted from lawful Venezuelan commerce by the Bolivarian elite for their own use.

- Miami-based expatriate Venezuelan financial planners are actively seeking to purchase a Swiss bank for Chavez. These individuals have close personal ties to the Swiss banking industry.

- There is an unconfirmed report that Chavez has already bought a bank in Lebanon. Whether this is further evidence of a relationship between the Chavez regime and Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization, remains for further proof, but cash flows from Venezuela into Hezbollah’s accounts in the Middle East. This cannot be occurring without governmental knowledge.

- The Chavez government has recruited former intelligence agents experienced in covert financial operations to assist in meeting its economic goals. These individuals, from Cuba, the US, the UK, Spain and Latin America, have sufficient skills to achieve the desired goals.

As additional information surfaces on the money laundering operation, it shall be analyzed and circulated.

Read also:

PEPwatch Venezuela: Beware of government-controlled private corporations (Part 1)

PEPwatch Venezuela: Beware of government-controlled private corporations (Part 2)

PEPwatch Venezuela: Beware of government-controlled private corporations (Part 3)

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