Spain’s El Pais published an article today claiming that the government of Andorra is investigating 35 people over the theft of €2 billion from PDVSA, the state-run oil company. According to the article, Andorran authorities have asked for the cooperation of their Venezuelan counterparts in the investigation, but it is not clear if they have complied.
According to the El Pais investigation, most of the individuals under the investigation are mostly high-ranking members of the oil company, and that the investigation is focused in the time period between 2007 and 2012. The authorities claim that it was during that time that the individuals deposited a total of €2 billion in stolen money into the Banca Privada D’Andorra.
The judge in charge of the case, Canolic Mingorance, alleges that the money came from:
… corruption through the payment of illegal commissions made through PDVSA as well as other public corporations like the Corporacion Electrica S.A. [CORPOELEC, the state-owned electrical utility company].
This is not the first time that the Banca Privada D’Andorra has been named as the vehicle for the pilfering of Venezuelan public funds. Back in March of 2015, the United States Treasury Department accused the bank of helping corrupt Venezuelan officials launder money. The bank was taken over by Andorran authorities days after that allegation was made.
Today’s revelations also have a connection to the ongoing spat between Venezuela and Panama, as documents filed in the case allege that the dirty money was at times deposited into the Banca Privada D’Andorra under the name of Panamanian companies. Last week, the government of Panama issued a formal warning to its financial institutions to exercise caution when dealing with a list of 55 regime officials and 16 Venezuelan companies, given the possibility that the named entities might be attempting to launder money.
The documents also allege that just one of the named individuals, former vice-minister of Energy and Oil Nervis Villalobos, operated 11 Panamanian companies, through which circulated $1.347 billion dollars of suspected laundered money. Villalobos is currently in custody in Spain, after he was arrested in Madrid last October at the request of U.S. authorities for a matter unrelated to this case.
March for Protest Dead Takes Place in Caracas
A group of demonstrators held a march today in Caracas in honour of the 2017 anti-government protest dead. The demonstrators visited the spots where some of the protesters killed last year in Caracas fell.
The demonstrators first visited the site where Fabian Urbina died. Urbina was shot in the throat at a protest on June 19. Then, the demonstrators walked to the Las Mercedes neighbourhood of the city to the spot where Armando Cañizales was killed, where they met his parents. Cañizales was killed after being struck in the neck with an object–likely a bullet–at a protest on May 3. Finally, the demonstrators visited the place in Chacao where Neomar Lander was killed by a tear gas canister fired by the National Guard on June 6.
In the image below, the demonstrators hold a sign that reads “Juan Pernalete”, one of the protesters killed in Caracas last year:
Below, a sign reading “Fabian Urbina”:
In the video below, the demonstrators begin to applaud at the request of one of the protest organizers in honour of Urbina’s life:
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