Tuesday, February 26, 2008

US to go after billions in laundered Venezuelan money

Financial Crime Consultant, for World-Check
US to go after billions in laundered Venezuelan money
Kenneth Rijockā€
February 26, 2008


Reliable Washington sources report that the Treasury Department of the United States, and other government agencies, whilst searching for assets held in financial institutions in connection with the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, have identified billions of dollars of laundered funds worldwide, all secreted by key senior Venezuelan government officials, a few military officers, and a large number of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), for their own corrupt use and benefit, and for that of designated global terrorist organisations, on the express orders of President Hugo Chavez.

The US now reportedly intends to officially name Venezuela as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and seize all the hidden overseas accounts it has located. Miami banks alone hold several billion dollars of illicit money, and accounts have also been identified in places like China, Andorra, and Panama, and most of the major offshore financial centres. The funds rightfully belong to the people of Venezuela, as they were looted from government accounts, taken as bribes and kickbacks, and earned from narcotics trafficking activities aided and abetted through illegal governmental involvement. The other individuals targeted in this investigation are members of the Bolivarian Elite, a group of businessmen close to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias, and his family, and whose aim is to keep his corrupt regime in power.

These Bolivarians have earned obscene amounts of money through corrupt government contracts, outright theft of government assets, and favoured transactions that have resulted in their acquisition of major assets that rightfully belonged to the Republic of Venezuela. The individuals involved will most likely face money laundering charges in the United States , which carry a 20-year sentence of imprisonment, terrorist financing charges,even potential Racketeering (RICO) counts, though this entire scenario, which has effectively destroyed the Venezuelan economy, was ordered, planned and engineered by President Chavez, as a part of his misguided Socialist economic agenda. Will he be indicted, as other heads of state of countries that border the Caribbean have. Only time will tell.


The United States has found active financial and political links between the Venezuelan government and the following designated global terrorist organisations, all of which operate within Venezuelan territory, with the explicit permission and support of the Chavez government:

Hizballah
Hamas
Al-Qaeda
FARC
ELN
ETA
Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps

Moreover, the illegal fund-raising activities these groups engage in, whether they be narcotics trafficking, arms smuggling, extortion, human smuggling, or other types of crime, are allowed to flourish, even though some of the acts take place in, or through, Venezuelan territory. Frankly, we welcome any action by the United States against these terrorist groups, which have been operating freely in Venezuela for years. the FARC, for example, has well-established base-camps on the Colombian border, so that its leadership can evade the Colombian Ejercito, that country's powerful army. Do you not remember this writer's recent piece on the placement, by Venezuela, of missiles on the Colombian border? Those weapons are in direct support of the FARC.

Several of the senior Venezuelan money launderers must have been made aware recently that there is a major pending investigation, because they are rapidly retaining senior criminal defence attorneys for all criminal prosecutions and civil proceedings which are soon to come. May we tactfully suggest that they refrain from wasting their money in this way, because:

These experienced attorneys are well known for defending drug defendants, a fact that will not escape a prosecutor, judge or jury. It does not help their case one bit to be associated with known drug lawyers, and it could hurt you in a variety of ways.

They may get better deals by negotiating directly, early on, and not making an adversarial matter out of it, which causes the parties to become polarised, and may preclude any subsequent settlement. Remember that many great lawyers who have strict rules against clients cooperating with the US Attorney's office. Those lawyers do not have to do your time when a sentence of incarceration is handed down.

International bankers would do well to upgrade country risk for Venezuela to high-risk, to review all high net-worth Venezuelan accounts to rule out PEP status, and to close those that are identified as PEPs forthwith. All identification documents should be reviewed, to ensure that compliance policy has been scrupulously observed, for you will be getting a visit from law enforcement and/or regulators, or be served with a subpoena if you have a Venezuelan client base. We have been advised that many high volume Venezuelan accounts have been closed within the last 15 days. Latest accounts from inside Venezuela indicate that the country's gold reserves have disappeared. Do you need any additional red flags to raise the risk level to maximum?

We congratulate President Chavez, for destroying the economy of his once-flourishing country. Only Fidel Castro has done a better job of national ruination. Perhaps when Venezuela implodes from the shock of being placed in the same terrorist category as Iran and North Korea, its citizens blocked from visiting or trading with the US, and all Venezuelans globally stigmatized on account of one man, their elected president-for-life.

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