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Who is Luis Oberto?

From left: Luis Oberto, Maria Graciela Gill, Victoria Vargas and Francisco D'Agostino[/caption]“Me preguntas qué entiendo yo por coleccionismo, y lo concibo quizá como algo distinto a lo que piensan otras personas, porque el coleccionismo es para mí continuidad. Algo que hace bastante falta en Venezuela, sobre todo en el área del arte y la cultura, donde los procesos son lentos y densos. El coleccionismo no es un trabajo aislado y en mi caso particular no está separado de la colección que originaron mis padres. Creo que hay muy pocas familias en nuestro país, tal vez  ninguna, que hayan dado continuidad a este esfuerzo. El coleccionismo implica precisamente esfuerzo, sacrificio; también implica recursos que lamentablemente no son infinitos; porque creo que a todo coleccionista le gustaría tener recursos inagotables para poder tener todo lo que quiere.” Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi, Caracas, May 2006.

The quote above comes from Luis Oberto (aka Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi) one of the most discreet members of the Venezuelan Boliburgeoisie. A mention here, another there, it seems that Oberto has been able to fly under the radar for quite some time now, although INFODIO readers -an extraordinary source of information on all these white-collar thugs- have been sharing intel on Oberto and his operations. Please bear with me as this is about to get more complicated than a Venezuelan soap opera.

Oberto is the son of Ignacio Oberto Fuguett and Valentina Anselmi de Oberto. Oberto Sr has always been involved with the banking sector. He started off as founder of OSACA, which was subsequently merged with Bancaracas Mercado de Capitales and Banex Mercados de Capitales and so BBO Servicios Financieros was launched. Oberto has been / is one of BBO's directors. There are plenty of articles written by Oberto Sr, and published in Caracas daily El Universal, where he pontificates about what the opposition must do in order to defeat chavismo. Oberto Sr has gone as far as criticising the banking sector -of which he is a prominent member- for having “supported till the very last breath the autocratic regime of Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez Frias.” Oberto Sr has also lamented the fact that in Venezuela there's such a lax attitude towards legal safeguards that no one involved in financial crimes ever goes to jail. As we shall see, Oberto Sr's chutzpah has no bounds, hold the puke.

His kid, Luis Oberto, started early in life. Oberto Jr (DOB 11/08/1976, ID. 12624295) married to Maria Graciela Gill, daughter of Victor Gill, another Bolivarian “banker” (owner among other things of Banco Fondo Común). Sources report that Oberto Jr and some of his friends bribed the secretary of Universidad Catolica Andres Bello's law school (his alma mater) to get through exams in the fourth year. A bit of a storm ensued, parents and lawyers were drawn in, and Oberto Jr ended up getting his law degree the following year, while the bribed secretary was dismissed.

It is said that he cut his teeth in La Primera Casa de Bolsa (owned/controlled by Santiago Monteverde), where he met his would-be partner Jose Antonio Oliveros Febres-Cordero (aka "Portu"). From La Primera, they moved to an office in Interbank Seguros (owned by his father in law Victor Gill). Oberto Jr's next move was to purchase seat no. 31 of Caracas' stock market (non existent now) to Banco de Venezuela, thanks to the good auspices of his aunt Ingrid Anselmi de Frontado, who sources believe had a key role in the merger between Banco Caracas and Banco de Venezuela -the latter had been acquired by Spain's Santander. Shortly after that, Oberto Jr launched UnoValores and returned the favour, auntie Ingrid would become a director.  

UnoValores got in with the big boys real quick. Being the son in law of Bolivarian “banker” Victor Gill guaranteed that mega Boligarchs, such as Wilmer Ruperti, would become clients: in 2005 one of Ruperti's companies (Venezuela Oil Shipping LLC) wanted to issue some debt tied to PDVSA invoices, and both Oberto Sr (remember him?) and Jr came to the rescue. BBO would structure it and UnoValores would place it in the stock market. Seguros Horizonte would also place their trust and money with UnoValores. Others followed suit. Business was booming. While UnoValores grew, Oberto Sr enjoyed plane rides in Ruperti's G-550.

Oberto Jr's next move was a masterstroke: UnoValores was chosen by Electricidad de Caracas to bring to market a $650 million bond issue. Economist Ana Julia Jatar criticised the issue, claiming that UnoValores could have made $91 million in the deal. But then Unovalores was sold to Gonzalo Tirado Yepez, just 24 hours after it had issued -on behalf of Electricidad de Caracas- $650 million worth of bonds. Readers may remember Gonzalo Tirado was Allen Stanford's man in Venezuela. Unbelievably enough, Venezuela's Inteligence Police (CICPC) workers' fund would put in excess of $3 billion with Tirado-controlled UnoValores.

By this time Oberto Jr was already in the big leagues, part of a clique of “bankers” that have grown obscenely rich not because of their business acumen but rather due to their utter amorality and expertise in money laundering and other international financial operations. And so he then partnered with Luis Benshimol, owner of BENCORP and in turn partner-at-times of convicted felons Franklin Duran and Carlos Kauffman among others. Records show that Oberto Jr was at one time Director at BENCORP. BENCORP itself had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, and seems to have ended up badly. Another source pointed out that while in BENCORP, Oberto Jr messed with a security guy, called Francisco Salvador Madrid, who in turn is meant to have recorded secretly, set up and entrapped a journalist called Jose Rafael Ramirez, on behalf of Wilmer Ruperti. Salvador was also charged in connection to fraud and money laundering at BENCORP.

Once corruption through arbitration, bonds, structured notes, etc. in Venezuela's banking sector became too evident, Hugo Chavez sent his pack of even more corrupt controllers to put a stop in the financial piñata. Remember none of it could have been possible without complicity at the highest levels of government, blind leading the blind sort of scenario. In any case banks and brokering houses were seized, notorious partners of chavismo -such as Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco- were jailed, white collar thugs from old and new were targeted, some fled, some were blackmailed... 

Fearing jail, or vengeance, Oberto Jr was among those who fled. He decamped to a $4.8 million apartment in 255 East 74th St in New York. Sources say that he met Danilo Diaz Granados and Leonardo Gonzalez Dellán in New York. Gonzalez Dellán would provide needed access and contacts to other “bankers” in London. In any case, Oberto Jr came up with a new method to syphon more money out of Venezuela. But he would need new contacts. So he got in touch with Francisco D'Agostino, of Otto Reick v Derwick Associates lawsuit fame, and asked whether he could pitch his model to PDVSA through Derwick's point man at the State oil company: Nervis Villalobos. 

It is not very clear how the whole operation worked, although sources reported as something rather simple: PDVSA assigned dollars to a foreign corporation and people wanting to offload Bolivares and get dollars were offered the scheme. It is alleged that a Panama-vehicle controlled by Oberto Jr (purportedly Violet Advisors) was assigned dollars, which were then paid into Violet's account at Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique (CBH), in turn used by Danilo Diaz Granados and Charles Henry de Beaumont; Victor Vargas (owner of CORP Banca and Banco Occidental de Descuento or BOD) is alleged to have bought into the deal, paying his due in a Banco Industrial de Venezuela bank account belonging to a company called Atlantic. Everyone involved got, of course, their fat commissions.

D'Agostino did not want his father in law (Victor Vargas) to know that he was in the deal with Oberto Jr, and so they decided to offer it through another executive of BOD: Diego Enrique Lepage, in turn long time friend of Oberto Jr. Once PDVSA had given the green light, and Vargas was on board, Oberto Jr & co moved about $4 billion according to a source familiar with the deal.

Oberto Jr has done very well for himself:

1) He is now a patron of the arts,

2) his wife is meant to be involved in some program with UNICEF (while dabling in capital markets),

3) he travels around his properties in Miami (Canyon Ranch) and New York in a Falcon 2000 (co-owned with partner Juan Bravo, details / pics to be posted soon),

4) uncle Luis Luciani added to the “let's-get-your-reputation-cleansed” PR campaign by introducing him to the Young President's Organization (Oberto Jr also partnered with his uncle and auntie in something called Pague Aqui),

5) he's moved into the hotel business in St Barts (Guillermo Pardo of Luxury Services would be the front man while Hans Maissen would design the place) with Francisco Convit and another thug known as “el enano” Mariano Díaz (head of a criminal gang known as “la banda de los enanos”, corrupt lawyers that delay lawsuits brought in by Venezuela's public prosecutors for a fee, and partner of Raul Gorrin new owner of Globovision),

6) allegedly he's gone into oil as well with Convit in Venezuela,

7) he takes part with his father in law in arbitration schemes to finance Hugo Chavez's political party,

8) he bought Seguros Venezuela and put Oberto Sr (remember him?) as head of the board,

9) the Obertos are also partners in something called BC Securities Inc in Panama,

10) he runs Loma Investments in Florida and Mirmidones Capital in Connecticut,

11) he has a stake in Banco Activo -owned by his former partner José Antonio Oliveros Febres Cordero,

12) and while the above is happening he gets to rub shoulders with some of the worse scum from Venezuela by instructing his little brother Ignacio to give $100,000 to Miami's Symphony Orchestra.

While Oberto Jr has truly made it, Boligarch style Twelve Steps and all, he personifies what an INFODIO collaborator has called “la sociedad de cómplices”. 

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