A massive document leak originating from the Mossack Fonseca law firm based out of Panama is making waves through global news outlets this evening. The law firm specializes in creating and managing shell companies for some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people. The 11 million leaked documents show how Mossack Fonseca helped heads of state and corrupt officials from around the world evade taxes, launder illegal money and hides billions of dollars worth of stolen wealth through elaborate schemes involving shell companies.
One of the individuals revealed by the leak to own an offshore shell company is Adrian Jose Velasquez Figueroa, a retired Venezuelan National Armed Forces captain who served as the head of security at the Miraflores Palace under Hugo Chavez.
Below, a video explaining what the Mossack Fonseca files revealed about Figueroa’s activities, along with my translation below:
Narrator: Adrian Velasquez Figueroa was head of security at the presidential palace during Hugo Chavez’s term. He is married to Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen. They [were] both in the army, and belonged to the circle closest to the Venezuelan leader.
Velasquez is one of the clients of the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca. His e-mails and negotiations came to light thanks to a global journalistic investigation. His wife was one of the first to treat Chavez for the cancer that took his life, when his disease was still a secret.
Between 2011 and 2013, she was placed in charge of the National Treasury, and was named secretary of a publicly-finance fund. Diaz watched over the income that came into the country amid a rigorous currency exchange system in place since 2003. During her term [as National Treasurer], there were allegations that state funds were funneled into Chavez’s campaign.
One month after an ill Chavez won the election, his former head of security joined the elite clientele of the Swiss bank BSI according to a letter certified by the institution which Velasquez sent to Mossack Fonseca. In April 2013, the firm created an anonymous company called Bleckner Associates Limited for Velasquez in the Seychelles, not before telling its employees that Velasquez was someone that needed to be investigated for his political connections and doubts over the origin of his fortune.
Despite these internal warnings, the company was created. Velasquez also manages other companies in Venezuela and Panama alongside his brother, Josmel Jose. The majority [of these companies] were opened while Diaz was the National Treasurer. Among them is M.J. Box Tool, which conducts business with the Venezuelan state.
A year after Chavez’s death, Velasquez obtained temporary citizenship in the Dominican Republic. Starting in 2013, he used an address for a sea-side neighbourhood in Punta Cana in his e-mails with the firm.
At this moment, it appears as if the files are going to be released in waves, similar to how the Snowden files were made public. The Panama Papers can be found here.
According to El Nacional, a search of the Mossack Fonseca leaked document database for the word “Venezuela” turns up 241,000 documents.
Socialist International Calls for Maduro to Consider Amnesty Law
At a meeting of the Socialist International yesterday in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the body representing socialist countries from around the world approved a resolution calling on Maduro to accept the Amnesty and National Reconciliation Law.
The resolution expresses extreme concern over the political situation in Venezuela, for which it considers the blame is clear:
[The political crisis] is the result of the attitude of the Nicolas Maduro government, which has been instigating a conflict of powers through the use of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice against the autonomous decisions of the Venezuelan legislative powers, after the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) won a two third majority in the National Assembly in the December 6, 2015 elections.
The organization also stressed that it is unacceptable for any state – specially a democracy – to hold political prisoners, and that it agreed with the MUD’s Amnesty and National Reconciliation Law.
The Socialist International represents 152 socialist political parties from around the world.
Maduro: Drop in Oil Prices Is Good
During a tour around Vargas state, Maduro spoke on the dramatic drop in oil prices starting in 2014, and responded to a comment made by Minister of the Economy Miguel Perez Abad “thanking God” for the collapse of global oil markets.
The time of prosperity will come as a result of our work (…) the drop in oil prices – look how they’re dropping again – but as Minister Perez Abad said — I won’t go as far as him — Perez Abad said, “Thank God that the oil prices fell, because now we can really build our new economy”.
I won’t go as far as giving thanks, but we needed this shake-up so that we could get rid of so much dependence of the fantasy wealth that is oil, and build true wealth. Produce our own things, man. We needed this to do the true economic revolution, the same one that depended on the stream [of oil money]. What a stream, at $100 per barrel. Now it’s up to us to do our own thing.
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