Thursday, October 25, 2007

Will the Antonini/Del Nogal money laundering scandal bring down the Venezuelan government?

Financial Crime Consultant, for World-Check
by Kenneth Rijock
Mr. Rijock, age 59, is a Financial Crime Consultant based in Miami.
More about the Author
Will the Antonini/Del Nogal money laundering scandal bring down the Venezuelan government?
21 October 2007

For those readers who want to learn the latest developments in the Argentinean-Venezuelan money laundering case, we have summarised them below. Denial seem to be the order of the day for the Venezuelan government, which appears to be under extreme pressure to take legal action against Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson and Alex Del Nogal, both of whom are not just linked to governmental officials, as has been claimed, but are employed by the Venezuelan government. Is this case Venezuela's Watergate?
To update you on this unfolding story:
The Venezuelan government has announced that it is taking steps to seize and freeze all assets of Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson,[UID 684165] wanted in Argentina, in connection with money laundering and Walter Alexander "Alex" Del Nogal [UID 441492], in custody in Italy due to an arrest warrant for narcotics trafficking issued by a Palermo magistrate investigating Mafia narcotics operations. No actual asset seizures have been reported, however, and it remains to be seen whether this announcement was intended to pacify the growing outrage being expressed by many Venezuelans over the growing scandal over what is known there as "valijagate" (Suitcasegate).
Government agents ransacked Del Nogal's home, ostensibly looking for incriminating documents, but questions are being raised as to whether it was a pretext for destruction of evidence linking Del Nogal with high-ranking government officials. Other sources claim there was outright theft of some of Del Nogal's possessions by these agents.
Governmental press releases have claimed that Del Nogal has been released, and was on his way back to his native Venezuela, but the Italian government, who is holding him, has not released him, and opposition leaders are pointing to this as an example of intentional disinformation, to mislead the Venezuelan public.
There are allegations out of Venezuela that Del Nogal is engaged in substantial petroleum business in Panama, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Argentina.
Whilst Antonini has not, as of this date, been extradited from the US to face charges in Argentina, His close associate, Franklin Duran, has been seen driving into his multi-million dollar Key Biscayne Mashta Island mansion, under close surveillance from a Land Rover packed with four men in business suits. It is unknown whether these are bodyguards, or US law enforcement agents following him around Miami.
Del Nogal has been identified, by a high-level Colombian narcotics figure in currently in custody in that country, as the primary money laundering player in Venezuela. Will he now be indicted in Colombia?
Venoco President Carlos Kaufmann [UID 239412] has reportedly fled Venezuela altogether, and is presently living in his castle in Italy. Our readers will recall that Antonini has business cards identifying himself as a vice president of Venoco, though he resides in the US, and he apparently has no duties at the company. Venoco mysteriously holds a monopoly upon petroleum lubricants in Venezuela, and is believed to be a de facto government-controlled corporation with close links to officers at PdVsa, the government petrochemical giant.
Del Nogal has been reportedly linked to other senior PdVsa executives in questionable activities that seem to indicate money laundering operations, and we shall publish these details as soon as verification of this information can be obtained.
There has been no explanation offered as to exactly why Del Nogal took eleven trips to Argentina, and the question pesists: why is the Argentinian prosecutor who seeks Antonini silent on Del Nogal?
Photographs taken at a recent birthday party at Del Nogal's Caracas residence show that reputed senior members of the Sicilian Mafia who reside in Venezuela attended that function. We shall continue to monitor this story, including a follow-up report on Del Nogal's Italian indictment, and details of the PdVsa connection.

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