The Venezuelan government finally addressed accusations by the United States Treasury Department that Venezuelan officials were involved in money laundering activities through the Banca Privada D’Andorra, two weeks after the accusations were first made.
Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz announced today that the government would be looking into the matter:
We’ve already asked, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that we be informed about the money held by some Venezuelans in those banks.
The other bank involved in the controversy is the Swiss branch of HSBC.
Last week, opposition National Assembly Deputy Roberto Enriquez demanded that Maduro look into the matter, since it is estimated that Venezuelans hold $350 billion in illegal overseas accounts. For reference, Venezuela’s U.S. dollar monetary reserve currently holds approximately $20 billion.
Diaz also clarified that the investigation into the alleged illegal activities had been undergoing for some time:
We’re investigating this not because the opposition asked us to, but because the Public Ministry has been looking into it since before then.
Furthermore, the National Assembly opened an investigation today into the alleged Venezuelan accounts in the Banca Privada D’Andorra.
The move was not without controversy, as Deputy Pedro Carreño – who is also the government’s comptroller – warned that the move against the Banca Privada D’Andorra might be a way for Venezuela’s enemies to get at PDVSA, the state-run oil company:
[The objective] of this manoeuvre is to freeze PDVSA’s assets… [if this happens], not a tanker ship will be able to move in the country. This is dangerous, and we should be careful because this is part of a destabilization plan to break the back of the Bolivarian revolution.
Amnesty International Denounces Lack of Accountability
A year after protests shook the country, Amnesty International decried the fact that the “vast majority” of security officials suspected of committing human rights abuses have not yet faced justice. The organization pointed out that this fact can encourage further acts of state violence against citizens.
In an article published on its website, Amnesty International said:
Venezuela’s failure to effectively investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of 43 people and the injury and torture of hundreds during protests in 2014, is effectively giving a green light to more abuses and violence, said Amnesty International in a new report today.
The article also claims that evidence collected by Amnesty International during last year’s protests show that police officers allowed pro-government armed groups to assault protesters without repercussion. The same article also condemns the Ministry of Defence decree issued late last month, allowing for the armed forced to use deadly force against peaceful protests.