Some time ago we reported that Abraham Edgardo Ortega had pleaded guilty of accepting bribes in connection to a multi billion dollar money laundering scheme. It was reported yesterday that Ortega got sentenced to two years imprisonment. Ortega's sentence reveals, for the first time, Rafael Ramirez's direct involvement in various money laundering scandals centered at PDVSA. With this investigation as background, and this list of co-conspirators as reference, this site can conclude that the U.S. Department of Justice -in its Sentencing Memorandum- has not only confirmed the conspirators list reported by this site in late October 2018 (see page 9 in pdf below), but crucially, it has finally exposed Rafael Ramirez's involvement in these schemes.
In page 2 of DoJ's Setencing Memorandum, background on the scheme is provided. It reads "The defendant engaged in an international money laundering conspiracy involving two separate schemes over the course of more than a year between 2016 and 2017, in which he laundered $12 million in U.S. currency through accounts in the United States, as more fully described in the defendant’s signed Factual Proffer [ECF No. 65]."
It then goes onto to explain "Companies C-D Loan Scheme":
"In or about 2012, the defendant, Venezuelan Official 1, Subject 4, Subject 5, and Venezuelan Official 5 conspired to execute a corrupt currency exchange scheme involving bribes to PDVSA officials, including the defendant and Venezuelan Official 5 (the Companies C-D Loan Scheme).
As part of this scheme, Company C agreed to loan PDVSA approximately 17.4 billion Venezuelan bolivars in multiple tranches. Under this contract, PDVSA would repay the loan to Company C in U.S. dollars in an amount equivalent to the "loaned" Venezuelan bolivars at the Venezuelan government's fixed exchange rate. After it was determined that Company C was not reputable enough to sign the "loan" contract with PDVSA, Subject 5 found a suitable Venezuelan entity, Company D, to enter into the PDVSA loan contract. Subject 5 then paid Company D $10 million to assign Company D's rights under the "loan" contract to Company C. As part of this scheme, the defendant received $10 million as a bribe payment from Subject 4 to ensure the defendant’s cooperation, which would allow PDVSA to repay the "loan" in U.S. dollars in accordance with the contract." [bold added]
This loan scheme is none other than the $4+ billion scam set up by Luis and Ignacio Oberto, Francisco Convit and Alejandro Betancourt, Juan Andres Wallis Brandt and Nervis Villalobos, and, of utmost importance, approved by Rafael Ramirez. It is is exposed here in minute detail, however it is worth providing proper identification of parties involved:
- Companies C-D Loan Scheme = Atlantic - PDVSA Loan Scheme.
- Defendant = Abraham Edgardo Ortega.
- Venezuelan Official 1 = Victor Eduardo Aular Blanco.
- Subject 4 = Nervis Villalobos.
- Subject 5 = Luis Oberto.
- Company C = Violet Advisors.
- Company D = Atlantic.
- Venezuelan Official 5 = Rafael Ramirez.
This site's investigation determined that a proxy of Luis Oberto (Juan Andres Wallis Brandt) sent the "loan scheme" proposal to Rafael Ramirez on 29 February 2012.
We have evidence that shows Ramirez approving the "loan scheme" on 6 March 2012, during a PDVSA Board meeting in which Eulogio del Pino, Asdrubal Chavez and Victor Aular (Venezuelan Official 1) were present. Furthermore, this site has a letter signed by Ramirez, also dated 6 March 2012, pitching and justifying the deal to board members, and designating Victor Aular as person in charge for all issues pertaining contract with Atlantic (Company D).
This site has the "loan scheme" contract, signed between Wallis and Aular, dated 12 March 2012. We also have Atlantic's (Wallis) cession of "...totality of rights and obligations..." pertaining the contract between Atlantic and PDVSA, to Violet Advisors (Company C), a shell controlled by Luis and Ignacio Oberto. This is dated 15 March 2012.
It is refreshing to see that Ortega pleaded guilty, agreed to collaborate extensively with probing authorities, and admitted to have received bribes from Francisco Convit. This site has maintained, for nearly a decade, that Derwick Associates, that is the criminal organization led by Alejandro Betancourt and Francisco Convit, have yet to do one honest and legitimate deal. Ortega's sentencing also highlights how Convit and Betancourt conspired with their FSB-controlled Russian partners, and bribed their way into a joint venture with PDVSA, a story also revealed by this site in March 2016.
It is our interpretation that DoJ left very clear that its pursuit of "other money launderers and other co-conspirators" involved is ongoing. If DoJ already knows about Ortega and Banca Zarattini, it won't be difficult to find other evidence of multimillion dollar bribe payments to Ramirez there. This signals trouble ahead for Ramirez, but also for Betancourt, the Oberto brothers, Danilo Diazgranados, Raul Gorrin, and, particularly, Swiss banks Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique and EFG Bank among others.