17 Dec 2020
A former Venezuelan national treasurer and her husband were indicted by a Miami federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of accepting millions in bribes from a billionaire businessman who paid them through U.S. bank accounts so he could make a fortune off the Venezuelan government’s lucrative currency exchange system.
Former Venezuelan treasurer Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, a former naval officer, and her husband, Adrián Velásquez Figueroa, a former presidential security guard, were charged with accepting the bribes from Raul Gorrín, who has had close relationships with Venezuela’s socialist presidents over the past decade.
Gorrín, 52, who owns a TV station in Venezuela along with now-frozen luxury properties in Miami and New York, is considered a fugitive after being indicted two years ago as the mastermind of the bribery conspiracy during the presidency of the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013. Gorrín continued to wield his influence during the presidency of Chávez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro.
“ln total, [Gorrín] paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to secure the rights to engage in over $1 billion in foreign currency exchange transactions that resulted in profits to [him] of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the new indictment says. To secure “this improper advantage” Gorrín used both personal and corporate bank accounts “to wire bribe payments” to Miami for Díaz and her husband as well as her predecessor as Venezuela’s national treasurer, the indictment says.
Both Díaz, 47, a former nurse for Chávez who served as national treasurer between 2011 and 2013, and her husband, Velásquez, 41, are living in Spain and are expected to face extradition to the United States. The court docket for their foreign corruption and money-laundering conspiracy case does not list defense attorneys for them.
Gorrín’s attorney, Howard Srebnick, said he only became aware of the new indictment from a Miami Herald reporter on Wednesday and was not prepared to comment.
The couple, along with Gorrín, are among more than a dozen former Venezuelan government officials, business people and associates who have been charged with money laundering in Miami stemming from a series of foreign corruption probes led by Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The alleged embezzlement of billions has contributed to the former oil-rich nation’s economic collapse, leading to a widespread lack of food, housing and medicine, along with an exodus of millions of Venezuelans.
By Jay Weaver, Miami Herald, 16 December 2020
Read more at Miami Herald
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