US Government Investigating Maduro and Stepsons for Money Laundering in Malta
Maduro and his family used lucrative access to currency exchange to amass an illicit fortune, and then laundered the proceeds in Malta.
Based on the details of a US investigation, Nicolás Maduro is involved in a money laundering network in Malta; the National Security Investigations Division of ICE has filed the case against the Venezuelan strongman and his family members in Miami courts.
According to media reports in the US, the Venezuelan dictator is being investigated for allegedly laundering roughly 160 million euros through a private investment firm.
The Independent website published a report by journalist David Lindsay, which reveals that Maduro’s stepsons helped launder USD $1.2 million of funds stolen from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA between 2014 and 2015, laundering the funds in Malta, an island in the Central Mediterranean located between Sicily and the North African coast.
According to the investigations, Maduro’s family used a false investment scheme that included the issuance of fraudulent bonds.
The report states that the electronic transfers show that the accounts of the three Maduro stepchildren amount to 511 million euros; and although the criminal lawsuit does not mention Maduro directly, there are several references to a “Venezuelan officer 2”, who is believed to be Maduro.
The children of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores, Yosser Gavidia Flores, Walter Gavidia Flores and Yoswal Gavidia Flores, are the alleged recipients of stolen funds from the state oil company through the manipulation of currency exchange rates.
Those named in the lawsuit are accused of embezzling funds from Venezuela’s huge oil income and exploiting its currency exchange system to amass illicit fortunes in Europe and the United States.
To take advantage of their profits, the defendants took advantage of their special access to the byzantine foreign exchange system of the Venezuelan government, which offers a much higher exchange rate than the normal market. That access was allegedly used to convert bolivars into dollars and euros, after the accused plundered the country’s oil wealth.
Their access to the lucrative government exchange rate enabled them to obtain dollars at a very low price, and later sell the currencies on the black market with astronomical gains.
One of the main participants in the operation, according to the criminal complaint, is José Vicente Amparan Croquer, alias ‘Chente’, a Venezuelan who is described by the National Security Investigations division as a “professional money launderer.”
According to the affidavit filed with the court, a worksheet entitled “Summary of Operation 600”, which is used as a key piece of evidence in the investigation; shows that, of the 511 million euros, about twenty were transferred to the European financial institution “Maltese 1”, hitherto unnamed; more than 220 million euros went to Francisco Convit Guruceaga; 159 million euros went to the Venezuelan presidential family, and another 68 million presumably to Raúl Gorrín, owner of the Globovisión news network.
Convit is a shareholder in the controversial construction firm Derwick Associates, which is linked not only to Chavista state and government officials, but also to opposition leader Henry Ramos Allup, whose brother-in-law, Francisco D’Agostino, is a partner in the firm.
According to the criminal complaint, the conspiracy began in December 2014 with a scheme designed to misappropriate around USD $600 million from PDVSA, by means of bribery and fraud. The defendants then endeavored to launder a portion of the proceeds. By May 2015, the conspiracy had ballooned in size, with USD $1.2 billion embezzled.
The lawsuit alleges that the scheme has been facilitated through a series of false investments, with the assistance of “money managers, brokerage firms, banks and real estate investment firms in the US and elsewhere, operating as a network of professional money launderers.”