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Swiss authorities found more than $ 10 billion in suspicious funds linked to the Maduro regime

The dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.  EFE / Miguel Gutiérrez / Archive
The dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. EFE / Miguel Gutiérrez / Archive

The Swiss Prosecutor’s Office identified bank accounts containing more than 10 billion dollars that they suspect come from public funds embezzled in Venezuelareported the newspaper Morning Sunday.

Since the investigations were opened in late 2019, Prosecutors in Zurich learned that people close to the Nicolás Maduro regime have funds in hundreds of accounts at around 30 banks, according to the report.

The Zurich prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Bloomberg.

In February 2020, a Swiss Federal Court ordered the release of bank documents linked to an embezzlement of the oil company PDVSA for 4.5 billion dollars. The decision affected brothers Luis Oberto and Ignacio Obertoy and two other Venezuelan businessmen suspected of having been their accomplices: Alejandro Betancourt, who lives in Spain, and his cousin Francisco Convit, who resides in Venezuela. The others who are involved in the cause are the Swiss banker Charles Henry De Beaumont and two former front-line Chavista officials: Rafael Ramírez, the former PDVSA czar, and Nervis Villalobos, the former Deputy Minister of Energy.

The hypothesis of the investigation is that the businessmen bribed the leaders of the oil company to set up the convenient “business scheme” between 2012 and 2014. Most of the dividends were transferred to the Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique and EFG Bank AG banks, and the remainder was distributed among other financial institutions in Switzerland, always to accounts linked to the Oberto brothers.

1,000 Swiss franc banknotes in a box at a bank in Zurich.  Switzerland, April 9, 2019. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann /
1,000 Swiss franc banknotes in a box at a bank in Zurich. Switzerland, April 9, 2019. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann /

“The operation, carried out thanks to acts of corruption, would have allowed the embezzlement of more than USD 4,500 million, mainly laundered through accounts opened in Switzerland,” said the highest Swiss court of Justice when rejecting the proposals of the defendants’ lawyers , who wanted to keep their operations secret.

Also in 2020, a report by the Swiss chain Radio Televisión Suisse assured that the European country is one of the destinations of the Maduro regime to save the profits that the illegal extraction of gold and its subsequent smuggling gives it. In addition, he indicated that different local banks -Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique and Credit Suisse- are suspected of laundering money from senior officials of the dictatorship.

The report indicates that Switzerland also has indirect links to illegal gold. To substantiate his assertion, he made reference to two events: the first took place in May 2019, when British authorities intercepted a private plane that had departed from the Caribbean country and had made a stopover in the Cayman Islands.. They assured that the shipment, of 104 kilos of illegal gold and with a value of approximately 5 million Swiss marks (USD 5.1 million), had been bought by a Swiss citizen.

The second, meanwhile, occurred in February 2019. At that time, an official regime plane landed in Zurich with illegal gold, according to opposition complaints. However, being protected by its diplomatic status, the aircraft was not registered, and it continued on its way to Abu Dhabi.

The report indicated in another passage that Switzerland is able to process the gold that would enter from Venezuela, considering that it has 4 of the 6 largest refineries in the world, which handle between 60 and 70 percent of the planet’s gold.

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About the author

Kim Diaz

Kim recently joined the team, and she writes for the Headline column of the website. She has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism.

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