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Rafael Ramirez imposition of cousin in deals with China resulted in $154 million bribe payments

China's CMEC contracts Diego Salazar as Venezuela representative

In various deals between Chinese corporations and PDVSA, Rafael Ramirez imposed his cousin Diego Salazar as conduit. Documents seen by this site show how Salazar signed representation contracts with Chinese companies looking to do business with PDVSA. Said Chinese cos would, ultimately, receive contracts from Venezuelan institutions under Ramirez, who in role of Minister of Energy and Oil exerted control over those institutions. An example is a contract dated May 2010, between Salazar (acting through Highland Assets Corp.) and China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation (CMEC). A 10% commission is agreed between the parties on any and all contracts obtained by Salazar for CMEC.

Such arrangements resulted in Salazar receiving -at the very least- $154 million worth of bribes, between November 2011 - September 2012, from five different Chinese companies (China CAMC Engineering, China Machinery Engineering Corp., Shandong Kerui Petroleum Equipment, Sinohydro Corporation, and Yutong Hong Kong Ltd).

Chinese companies bribe payments to Diego Salazar

But there's more. In September 2010, CMEC got a $1.46 billion contract from CORPOELEC, signed between Ali Rodriguez Araque and Luo Yan. A "commission" of 10% of that would have resulted in another payment of $146 million for Salazar.

According to the documents, Venezuela and China established a bilateral fund, called "El Gran Volumen", which would get $20 billion and provided financing to pre-selected Chinese corporations operating in Venezuela. While China chose its corrupt corporations, Venezuela applied same formula through Ramirez, by forcing the likes of Salazar and Nervis Villalobos into partnerships. Salazar and Villalobos would then follow Ramirez's intructions and ensure that some of the loot would be put to political use, as in the case of $25,000 monthly payments to Hugo Chavez's Ambassador in Nicaragua.

A letters rogatory sent by Andorra's judiciary to its DoJ counterparts (see pdf below) show various payments made from accounts at Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA), declared by FinCEN as money laundering concern in 2015. One example is a €30.2 million payment that Salazar makes to UNOVALORES, the brokerage house owned by Luis and Ignacio Oberto, involved in turn in a $4.5 billion money laundering scheme also approved by Ramirez. The Oberto brothers were onboarded as BPA clients around 2007.

Other payments were made to Fidel Ramirez Carreño (Rafael Ramirez's brother), and to various PDVSA staff  close to Ramirez (Julia van den Brule, Luis Carlos de Leon, Francisco Jimenez Villaroel, Sarah Moya Machado, Mariela Matheus Baptista, Ingrid Sanchez Rosales, and Albino Ferreras Garza).

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