Rafael Ramirez is a person of interest to this site. For over a decade, Ramirez was, simultaneously, Minister of Energy and Petroleum (MEP) and CEO of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). This can not be denounced enough: the watchdog (Minister) and the executive (CEO) can not reasonably be the same person, for when that happens "$700 billion disappear", as Ramirez admitted to Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW) recently. We know better than to believe anything coming from Ramirez, perhaps the chavista with biggest share of responsibility in the looting that created Venezuela's humanitarian crisis.
Ramirez is part of a criminal investigation in Portugal. Ramirez, and his closest relatives and associates, are the stars of a criminal probe in Andorra. Ramirez is involved in procurement corruption investigated in Brazil. Ramirez is part of criminal probes in Spain. Every criminal investigation being conducted in Switzerland into PDVSA's money laundering involves Ramirez. Having lost a civil lawsuit for corruption that resulted in a judgement worth $1.4 billion, Ramirez is meant to be "collaborating" with prosecutors in Houston and Miami. Ramirez is wanted for corruption in Venezuela, unquestionably THE MOST corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere.
Yet, he presents himself as a persecuted, innocent fellow, who lives in exile in Rome out of his meagre savings. Ramirez's claims to the DW are, of course, utterly baseless. Estimations of PDVSA income, plus debt incurred in the period, put the number at ~ $1.485 trillion USD. Ramirez decries that Maduro placed his friends in critical management positions in PDVSA. He does not say, however, a word about Baldo Sanso, his brother in law who was never given an official role in PDVSA yet was Ramirez's personal appointee in all manner of negotiations with multinational energy conglomerates. Neither does he speak about his trusted lieutenants Nervis Villalobos, and Javier Alvarado and the corrupt deals facilitated by them in his stead.
Ramirez, his wife, brother in law, mother in law, and many of his associates, live "in exile", in the lap of luxury. None work. None have been able to establish any successful enterprise, anywhere. They live off the loot that Ramirez not only allowed but promoted and participated in, directly.
This site has published specific and incontrovertible evidence of Ramirez's personal involvement in a money laundering scheme worth $4.5 billion USD. That's more than enough to put him, and his associates, away for life. Yet Ramirez travels around, unimpeded, just like Sanso, like the Neri Bonilla brothers, like Alejandro Betancourt, to name but a few of his closest partners-in-crime.
Why has Ramirez not been arrested, or put on a most wanted list, like Raul Gorrin? Simple, the U.S. government appears to have different plans for him. It is going to be fascinating to see how those plans pan out. For Ramirez is on full-attack mode, not only against Nicolas Maduro, but against his former partners, some of whom "collaborating" and actively looking for a get-out-of-jail card with DoJ. Do check the following rant, from Ramirez:
Ya lo han hecho con la creación de Camimpeg, convirtieron a los militares en unos traficantes de contratos petroleros, no producen ni un barril de petróleo; con el Decreto 3.368 quevedo entregó 14 campos petroleros a los socios del madurismo. Campos que habían sido nacionalizados por el presidente Chávez en 2006, hoy vuelven a manos de empresas rusas en occidente, con sus socios bolichicos, en oriente a las empresas de los maduristas, los amigos y testaferros árabes de delcy y jorge, a los familiares de ramos allup y a la empresa norteamericana Sargent Marine.
Ramirez talks about "Russians, bolichicos, Arab friends and proxies of Delcy and Jorge, relatives of Ramos Allup and Sargeant Marine." The Russians arrived in Venezuela energy sector, in force, when he was leading MEP / PDVSA. Here is Ramirez, signing a deal with "Russians and bolichicos", whose involvement he has never revealed, nor has he spoken a word about the $900+ million "bonus" that Gazprombank and the bolichicos paid to get in business with PDVSA.
As per "Arab friends and proxies of Delcy and Jorge", I pressume Ramirez could be referring to Samark Lopez. An investigation conducted by this site determined that, between 2012 and 2015, PDVSA gave over $30 billion worth of procurement contracts. Ramirez was head honcho for most of that time. Samark's Profit Corporation did hundreds of millions worth of business with PDVSA when Ramirez was there, and also after, when he was Maduro's rep at the UN. We never heard him decrying Samark Lopez then, did we?
How about "relatives of Ramos Allup"? Well, the gig Helsinge and Francisco Morillo (employer of Ramos Allup's sons) had in PDVSA, to win every single bid for the benefit of Glencore, Trafigura, Vitol, Lukoil, etc., ran between 2005 and 2015. Ramirez became part of PDVSA board in 2002, left the company as CEO in 2014. Ditto at MEP. Francisco D'Agostino (brother in law of Ramos Allup), became involved in Petrodelta mid 2015, after Ramirez's repeated attempts to extract bribes / commissions out of Harvest. Has anyone seen, anywhere, anything from Ramirez protesting D'Agostino et al involvement in Petrodelta from back then?
With regards to Sargeant Marine, it was its Venezuelan partner (Wilmer Ruperti) who brought Sargeant in. And who "made" Ruperti? Allow me to quote myself:
All the while Ruperti was being chased all over the place by Novoship. To put it simply, Ruperti was conditioning settlement of claim number 3 upon settlement of claim number 2, and settlement of claim number 1 upon successful negotiations, and pay out, in claim number 2.
The fascinating thing about all this, is the information being ventilated in the different lawsuits.
We know now that it was Rafael Ramirez who hand picked and commissioned Ruperti, making him an overnight Venezuelan Fredriksen.
In claim 2, Ruperti argued with PDVSA that he had suffered losses of some $580 million. We found out about how PDVSA's Jesus Enrique Luongo (cousin of Ramirez), agreed to settle and paid some $230 million into: a) Ruperti controlled shells and b) Intercontinental View Inc.
Funds destined to settle Ruperti's claim with Novoship were deposited in an escrow account controlled by Yves Klein of Monfrini & Crettol lawfirm in Switzerland, acting as counsel for Novoship. Where else have we seen Crettol in the context of Venezuela? As secretary in a shell belonging to Baldo Sanso, brother in law and trusted lieutenant of Rafael Ramirez.
Intercontinental View Inc., however, is of particular interest. As it turns out, Intercontinental, a Panamanian shell, had an account in Banca Zarattini. UBOs were Alejandro Leandro Sanchez (Ruperti's lawyer) and Carlos Prada Gomez. Of $230 million settlement referred, $62.4 million were to go into Intercontinental, and from there into Sanchez and Prada Gomez separate accounts. Prada Gomez had $28.1 million in an account in the name of Belcano Investments Inc., and Sanchez had $10.65 million in an account under Inversiones Dialhena S.A. name.
Why is Prada Gomez of note? A separate corruption scandal was exposed in the Spanish press recently, involving former Spain's Ambassador to Venezuela Raul Morodo and his son Alejo. Prada Gomez is among the arrested in connection to further PDVSA corruption.
If there's one person who's forfeited forevermore denunciations about corruption in Venezuela, that is Rafael Ramirez. To call him deluded, deranged, would be an understatement. The question continues to be: how come he hasn't been arrested?