Nelson Bocaranda, legendary Venezuelan journalist who scooped the global media with his precise and uncanny reports about Hugo Chavez's cancer (at a time when Venezuela denied the seriousness of Chavez's ongoing illness), reports today that a Frenchman by the name of Charles Henry de Beaumont (pictured, a.k.a.Charles Henry du Boscq de Beaumont) with Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique (CBH) in Switzerland, has been opening bank accounts for chavista officials. It was recently reported that U.S. Brokerage firm Direct Access Partners (DAP) was involved in a multi-million dollar fraud scheme with “María de los Ángeles González de Hernandez, 58, a vice president at Caracas-based Banco de Desarrollo Económico y Social de Venezuela, known as Bandes.” The scheme generated as much as $66 million in ill-gotten profits for DAP.
Banks trade on their reputation. The Swiss banking industry has built a centuries-long reputation of being the perfect hide-away. CBH seems to be a particularly rotten player, no qualms about partnering with criminals and assist in money laundering as long as juicy deposits can be realized. CBH is mentioned by U.S. authorities as one of the vehicles that was used by DAP in its scheme to provide kickbacks to the BANDES officials. This morning, Bocaranda mentions CBH in the context of the Derwick Associates lawsuit brought about by the former top U.S. diplomat for Latin America: Otto Reich.
CBH has a colourful past. In fact, it wasn't always known as CBH, it used to trade as Banque SCS Alliance, that is, until a series of financial scandals exposed the financial entity as a platform for criminals: just google its name and add Langbar, or Martin Frankel, or Lazarenko. Hence the name change. Has CBH changed its ways? Just google CBH and Neyret, or Bandes!
Habits die hard though, and so dodgy practices seem to be CBH's bread and butter. Curiously, powers to cosign were conferred to CBH Director de Beaumont, in March 2011, according to Switzerland's Commerce Register. But those powers were revoked in February 2013, as per same source. Why? Is Mr de Beaumont setting up on his own? His French company, SCI GOUJON 120, registered in 2009, has yet to file accounts. Is de Beaumont about to be sacked by CBH, as JP Morgan did with Eduardo Travieso? CBH, after all, is not alone. JP Morgan, in New York, is also up to its ears in similar deals with corrupt Venezuelans. I called de Beaumont's Geneva office this morning. A colleague said that he was "hardly around" and that the person that was dealing with his affairs was "on vacation." And so I sent an email, which expectedly has not been replied to. But a source in Geneva tells me that de Beaumont is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Perhaps he's trying to drum up more business with Boligarchs partying in Casa de Campo/La Romana.
Bocaranda's cryptic reports indicate that the case, as we say in Spanish, "pica y se extiende." If de Beaumont and CBH have been identified as enablers of corrupt Venezuelans stashing away stolen funds, it is to be expected that sooner or later more information will surface. Unwittingly, Otto Reich may have upset the apple cart not just for the Bolichicos but for an entire criminal enterprise that goes by the name of the government of Venezuela.
UPDATE 07 AUGUST: A fellow blogger writes in to say "have a look at Banco del Tesoro's partner banks in Geneva."
UPDATE 28 AUG 2014: a source writes in to say that de Beaumont bought a condo in 50 S POINTE DR UNIT TH7, MIAMI BEACH, FL 33139, in January 2014, for which it paid $4.6 million. A special purpose company, CONTINUUM TH 7, LLC, was registered in Florida for the purchase. This is obviously an upgrade from the €399,000 flat in Marbella where de Beaumont used to be until recently. Evidently, de Beaumont deals with Derwick Associates and Danilo Diaz Granados are paying nice dividends indeed...