The U.S. Treasury announced yesterday "Treasury Targets Venezuelan Oil Sector Sanctions Evasion Network", whereby Francisco D'Agostino, Alessandro Bazzoni, Philipp Apikian, Elemento and a network of six ships and 14 shells are designated "for their ties to a network attempting to evade United States sanctions on Venezuela’s oil sector." The news won't come as a surprise to readers of this site. We have written quite a lot on the issue of Alex Saab's replacing Rosneft as the go-to, Treasury-sanctions-evasion trading guy. In early May 2019, we posted about Libre Abordo, a two bit Mexican shell without track record that suddenly started doing business with PDVSA. In June 2019, Treasury designated Libre Abordo and some of Saab's proxies in Mexico. Critically, Elemento was instrumental in providing logistical support to Libre Abordo's foray into trading Venezuelan oil. Elemento is a shell controlled by D'Agostino and Bazzoni. When this site outed Elemento's involvement, a London lawyer for Bazzoni (Vanessa Tattersall - Holman Fenwick & Willan) got in touch and threatened this site with legal action.
While we feel a great deal of joy in seeing our corruption exposés vindicated in international criminal procedures, there's still so much more that needs doing. Treasury, for instance, targeted Saab's proxy Joaquin Leal Jimenez, but said nothing about Axel Capriles (aka Axel Galit Capriles Hernandez), a former Glencore employee also involved in Saab's oil trading activities. Neither has Treasury done anything about the sons of Henry Ramos Allup, some in D'Agostino's employ at Dayco and some in Francisco Morillo's Helsinge's employment.
D'Agostino is the son in law of none other than Victor Vargas, arguably the most corrupt 'banker' Venezuela has had in the last 30 years. Vargas has been all over the news recently for disappearing close to $1 billion worth of depositors' money. Oh, and Elemento and Bazzoni aren't the only involvement in criminal activity, for it should never be forgotten that D'Agostino has been a partner of Alejandro Betancourt, has been close to Luis Oberto, and was Oswaldo Cisneros' partner.
Ergo, just in D'Agostino's network there are so many leads, all utterly corrupt, that could take law enforcement to the very core of all Venezuelan corruption, past and present, in politics as well as in business. We would argue that, thus far, D'Agostino is the best catch. Unlike other parvenu thugs, like Betancourt, D'Agostino has pedigree: he has been surrounded by corruption since his father was one of Carlos Andres Perez' favourite contractors in the 80ies, when chavismo did not even exist. He knows Venezuelan 'bankers' since they were messenger boys. He knows Gorrin was hardly scraping by in a shanty, while a steady supply of Petrus was being consumed in his country club mansion. He has a real measure of Henry Ramos Allup's 'politics'. Oh, and he knows that Saab is not a diplomat, but a small time thug from Barranquilla with an inescapable stench that didn't have a penny to his name a few years ago, whose ambition far outweighs his wits, hence needs to partner with sophisticated players.
D'Agostino is blue-blooded royalty when it comes to Venezuelan corruption. That much he shares with the Capriles gang. While Treasury's latest action has put out of commission one of Alex Saab's sanctions-busting networks, another player has appeared: Tracor Trading Company Limited. So, the never ending looting of Venezuela continues. More must be done, and of all people, D'Agostino knows where many skeletons are...