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Rafael Ramirez got €47 million bribe from Banco Espirito Santo through Canaima Finance Ltd

Canaima Finance Limited. That is, according to a criminal probe led in Portugal by prosecutor Olga Barata, the shell in which Rafael Ramirez got €47,831,557 from a slush fund to make bribe payments created by Ricardo Salgado (Banco Espirito Santo - BES). Luis Rosa from El Observador was given access to the prosecution files and has the full report.

According to Rosa, Canaima Financial Limited was registered in Panama on 19 May 2019 and managed by a trust, the Canaima Trust, which was a BVI-registered shell managed in turn by Gertrust Limited Inc, another offshore shell.

The prosecution thought for a while that Nervis Villalobos was Canaima's UBO, given that Villalobos' wife (Milagros Coromoto Torres Moran) appeared in registry documents. Further investigations led to the discovery that Paulo Murta, involved with BES, set up the Canaima structure on Ricardo Salgado's instructions, because Salgado wanted to reward Ramirez in particular for opening up (onboarding) PDVSA and other Venezuelan institutions to BES.

Canaima had an account at a private branch of BES in Dubai where it first got €2 million, between 2009-2010. Then, between 2011-2014, Salgado gave instructions to another member of his criminal gang (Jean-Luc Schneider) to pay some $45.7 million.

Summary files from Andorra, another jurisdiction where Ramirez and Villalobos were investigated for corruption, showed that Villalobos bought and refurbished an apartment in Rome used by Ramirez. The Andorra probe revealed that all of Ramirez's brothers received bribe payments from Ramirez's first cousin (Diego Salazar), ring leader of that scheme. Those indicted in Andorra have also been criminally investigated in Venezuela, Portugal, Spain, U.S.A., France and Switzerland.

From a separate scandal involving Ramirez, sources familiar with proceedings informed this site that Wilmer Ruperti paid a $62.4 million bribe into a bearer-shares Panamanian company called Intercontinental View Inc. through an account at Lugano’s Banca Zarattini.

This is the first time however, as far as our reporting goes, that the name of Rafael Ramirez is directly related to a shell company that has received bribe payments. In the many corruption scandals in which Ramirez is involved, authorities have failed to establish a clear paper trail linking Ramirez directly with wrongdoing.

Ramirez has not had known employment / legitimate source of income since December 2017, when Nicolas Maduro decided to kick him out of his ambassadorial role at the U.N. in New York. According to people familiar with his corrupt deals, Ramirez's modus operandi was to sound potential partners-in-crime, once informal / verbal agreements were done visits from his trusted lieutenants would follow to iron out practical details. Nervis Villalobos was one of Ramirez's most trusted associates, proven by the fact that illicit proceeds from Andorra were used to purchase an apartment in Rome for Ramirez to live in. Baldo Sanso, Ramirez's brother in law, was another trusted associate upon who Ramirez has relied on for years.

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