[UPDATED* PLEASE READ BELOW]
On 3 January, Deacon Jorge Sonnante got in touch via DM. He sent me a link to a post about Pope Francis' alleged corruption, with a note asking whether I could help in making it viral. As a Venezuelan, I am naturally predisposed against authoritarianism, and in that regard Pope Francis is most certainly no John Paul II. So I replied to Deacon Sonnante, saying that anything related to chavismo was of interest. Shortly after another link came, this time about Juan Manuel Santos' millions in the Vatican Bank. Allegations about Santos, Cristina Kirchner, Nicolas Maduro and others are made in that article. So I asked again and this is what came back: Diosdado Cabello, Jesus Salazar, Samark Lopez Bello, Maria G. Chavez and Nicolas Maduro allegedly have some 2.5 billion (Euros?) in accounts at IOR, i.e. Vatican Bank. - Diosdado Cabello, acc. 001-3-17007 with 50,000,000; - Jesus Salazar, acc 001-9-40001 with 367,492.000; - Samark Lopez Bello, acc 001-3-16145 with 381,000,000; - Maria G. Chavez, acc 001-3-14577 with 851,000,000; - Nicolas Maduro, acc 001-3-15924 with 859,000,000. The information points at source of deposits. In the case of Cabello is Banesco bank; in the case of Jesus Salazar -if it is same Cabello proxy Jesus Vidal Salazar- is Cristina Finances; Samark Lopez Bello's funds come from his own Postar Intertrade Limited; Chavez's daughter's funds come from HSBC, where Alejandro Andrade managed $14 billion with total discretion; and Nicolas Maduro's retirement pension comes from Gems Finance Limited, another shell exposed in the HSBC scandal. Knowing what we know about Venezuelan, and Latin American corruption, this site has no reason to doubt Deacon Sonnante's information. In any case, a request for comment has been put to IOR and reply will be added here if / when it arrives.
*UPDATE 18/03/19 18:15GMT: While requests for comment put to IOR have not been replied, new evidence shows that Deacon Sonnante's information does not pass scrutiny.
After publishing this post, I kept asking Sonnante for further evidence, for he had offered to send IOR's forms allegedly used by Maria Gabriela Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, as well as evidence of deposits, allegedly related to Diosdado Cabello. Sonnante said he would decrypt the data to send it over. After a few days, I asked again, for the promised data. Sonnante then said that it would be sent when he could, as he was very busy.
Sonnante claimed that IOR was, allegedly, run differently, "with less systems, more manual." He also claimed that instructions were done "by mandate and letters, sometimes coded."
The U.S., according to Sonnante, is "going crazy" tracing IOR funds, and his task is to explain how this is done, and how Pope Francis allegedly protects "populists and their assets." Sonnante claimed to have had meetings with U.S. Treasury, which is allegedly working on his data.
I kept pressing for fresh evidence. Sonnante then sent two letters (see below), on 13 March. These are, as per Sonnante, evidence of transfer related to Maria Gabriela Chavez.
Apart from obvious errors ("VENTICINQUE MILIONI" = €20,000,000), these documents are obviously fake:
- Banca Privada D'Andorra (BPA) did not exist on 19 August 2016 (documents' date), as it had been shut after having been declared a "money laundering concern" by Treasury's FinCEN on 10 March 2015.
- This site consulted with sources in Andorra, who have investigated BPA's scandal extensively. Documents provided by Sonnante do not even have correct account number format, as used by BPA in all of its Venezuela-related business.
I confronted Sonnante with the findings. His replies aren't even worth printing, and so the ethical thing to do is to admit that this whole business of chavistas having hundreds of millions in IOR is, as far as Jorge Sonnante's information goes, completely and utterly unsubstantiated.
The only reason I decided to post the original information was because, for years, much before Sonnante was an online thing, different sources kept saying there was a connection between chavismo, Boligarchs and IOR.
I can only apologise to this site's readers for any inconvenience that this fake news may have caused.
UPDATE 19/03/19 12:08GMT: after posting clarification above, and admitting this site's mistake, Sonnante claimed I was a traitor and an extortionist, and that I got hush money from the Vatican. I guess I will have to add the Church to this site's funding sources, along with the CIA, USG, Mossad, the neocons, G2, Boligarchs...