Alek Boyd, writing at Tax Justice Network,
explores what happens when oil, offshore financial secrecy and populist politics combine to corrupt the hopes of an entire nation.
When the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published leaked HSBC data provided by Hervé Falciani in February this year, something rather odd became public: Venezuela had the third largestamount of money ($14.8B) held in HSBC accounts.
When Banca Privada D’Andorra (BPA) was singled out, in March this year, by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as “a foreign financial institution of primary money laundering concern” Venezuela popped again: FinCEN claims “BPA processed approximately $2 billion in transactions” in relation to a money laundering scheme in which Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) participated.
When the FIFA corruption scandal broke in May, former president of Venezuelan Football Federation, Rafael Esquivel, was among the arrested.
Also in May, the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. authorities were:
“investigating several high-ranking Venezuelan officials, including the president of the country’s congress (Diosdado Cabello), on suspicion that they have turned the country into aglobal hub for cocaine trafficking and money laundering”.
More recently, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested, during a sting operation in Haiti, Efrain Antonio Campo Flores and Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas for “conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.” In case the names fail to ring bells, these are a nephew, and a godson, of Venezuela’s current First Lady, Cilia Flores.
Then, Reuters informed that U.S. authorities were “preparing to unveil drug trafficking chargesagainst the head of Venezuela’s National Guard…” adding “Nestor Reverol, the former head of Venezuela’s anti-narcotics agency and a long-time ally of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, is named in a sealed indictment pending in federal court in Brooklyn, New York”.
The above may come as a surprise to some. In the last few years, Venezuela increased media profile had been largely focused on Hugo Chavez’s charisma and his poverty alleviation programs. Alas the gargantuan corruption that his administration brought about, of an unprecedented scale even in a country as corrupt as ours, is hardly played in the world’s media.
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