|Claudio Osorio before.||Claudio Osorio after...|
I first became aware of Claudio Osorio's existence in 2005. He was a high-flying Miami businessman from Venezuela who was throwing money all over the place: Gloria Estefan, Bill Clinton, Jeb Bush, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and even the Obamas came knocking at his door looking for cash. Cash for political campaigns, cash for foundations, cash for fun. And Osorio, a businessman with a checkered past involving swindling investors in Switzerland, was happy to oblige. His wife became a "philanthropist" and was known to invite her circle of "ladies that lunch" on a never-ending spending binge. The democratic party collected contributions from him and he was brought to the Whitehouse by Donna Brazile where they even attended the Obama Christmas party together. But the money they were spending was OPM. Other People's Money. It was all stolen. Every last dollar. Osorio was accused of corruption by his investors and yet he didn't care. Proximity to power, a big mansion, and an entourage of sycophants gives certain people a sense that they are untouchable, that they have utter impunity for their behaviour. Pictures of Osorio with Bill Clinton were ubiquitous. The Osorios even threw a political fundraiser for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. And then one sunny morning men with badges and guns knocked on the enormous wooden door of his Star Island mansion and, in a flash, Osorio was reduced, or better said, repositioned into a reality that better suited his station. He is now a convicted criminal and he will be sentenced on September 18, 2013 to as much as 20 years in a federal prison for swindling his neighbors and friends of $40M. To their shame, many of those who received some of the ill-gotten money have been asked by the trustee in this fraud case to return the money. To their credit individuals like Jeb Bush and Emilio Estefan have hastily written checks.
In the early 1990s another Venezuelan, Orlando Castro, was also throwing money around (and, like Osorio, funneled cash into democratic party coffers). The pictures of Castro with Clinton were all over the media in Venezuela at a time when Castro was bilking tens of millions from the financial sector. Castro was "enpadrinado" as we say back home: godfathered. The message was "look at me, I'm untouchable." Within six years of those pictures Castro was sitting in state prison in New York for fraud.
A number of American politicians were recently photographed with David Osio, of Davos Financial, a laundromat of corrupt Venezuelan money with offices in New York and Miami. Similarly, Republican bigiwg Al Cardenas has lined his pockets by chaperoning some of the sleaziest Venezuelan "businessmen" seeking entry into the American playground. When will the politicians learn the value of due diligence? More importantly, when will my countrymen understand: don't take your criminal ways to the U.S. The obvious question is: Who's next?