US-Sanctioned Venezuelan Vice President Accused of Money Laundering in Panama
EspañolPanama officials are looking into opening an investigation against Venezuela Vice President Tareck El Aissami, who they think may have been involved in money laundering schemes in the country.
Panama’s former Ambassador to the Organization of American States Guillermo Cochez made the initial request to investigateEl Aissami, who has already been sanctioned by the United States for similar crimes.
Cochez’s request to the Attorney General’s Office in Panama claimed that both El Aissami and his alleged frontman Samark López Bello be investigated following those US sanctions, which he said “proves” illegal funds passed through Panama.
He claimed that Aissami could have attacked or manipulated the country’s security networks, breaking various terrorism laws.
“They may be using the Panamanian corporate and financial system to launder assets for illicit acts such as drug trafficking and corruption of civil servants,” Cochez said. “No one knows how much money they have managed to place in Panama, but they are known to have turned Panama into an important player in an extensive laundering network.”
According to investigations by the United States Department of the Treasury, Lopez was responsible for opening accounts in the United States and creating ghost companies in Panama, Barbados and Venezuela, among others, in order to send and receive money to and from the Venezuelan Vice President.
Additionally, Venezuela has an office taking up the entire 24th floor of one of the most luxurious buildings in Panama, making it easy for such activity to go on unnoticed.
“(Lopez and El Aissami) may be promising to pay or grant benefits to Panamanian officials to avoid setting off financial alarms,” Cochez said.
El Aissami is blacklisted by OFAC and continues to be under investigation by US officials for his links to extremist movements in the Middle East.
According to US authorities, El Aissami coordinated drug shipments to a violent Mexican cartel, and provided protection to Colombian drug lord Daniel Barrera and Venezuelan drug trafficker Hermagoras Gonzalez Polanco.