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Tareck el Aissami's corruption accusations against Rafael Ramirez: rank hypocrisy

Someone must have shared "UPDATED - Nervis Villlalobos & Rafael Ramirez' web of corruption exposed" with Tareck el Aissami, who, in developing news, denounced yesterday some (just some) of the participants in a scheme that misappropriated and laundered over $4 billion dollars in 2012. El Aissami mentioned Rafael Ramirez, Luis and Ignacio Oberto, architects behind the theft of course. Nervis Villalobos, Juan Andres Wallis Brandt, Victor Aular and Abraham Ortega were also mentioned. But el Aissami left Asdrubal Chavez out (current President of PDVSA's Board of Directors), not a single mention, despite the fact that Asdrubal also signed with Ramirez the original PDVSA document that allowed the Oberto brothers to steal more than $4 billion. 

A chavista of el Aissami's stature accusing anyone of corruption is the proverbial sight of a beam in someone's eye. In his different PDVSA roles to date, el Aissami himself is involved in plenty. Perhaps not as much as Ramirez, simply because PDVSA's income during Ramirez's tenure was considerably larger, but not because el Aisami is any less corrupt, and that's the thing, isn't it? No one knows for certain what is PDVSA's actual income, no one knows what el Aissami's management of PDVSA has or hasn't done, because now everything is off the books, involving players in jurisdictions that make information gathering nearly impossible. If anything, el Aissami's PDVSA is even less transparent than Ramirez's.

Asdrubal Chavez is the perfect example of chavismo's hypocrisy when it comes to combating corruption: he was there when Ramirez ran the show and he is still in PDVSA's highest roles. No chavista authority will ever question, or arrest him.

El Aissami accused Ramirez of bankrupting PDVSA. On that he is correct, however this sudden accusation rings hollow when considering that Francisco Convit, an active player in the Obertos scheme, lives in Caracas, not precisely in hiding, and yet he has not been arrested. No action has been taken against Danilo Diazgranados either. The Obertos come and go to Venezuela from their Mexican base as they please. Only Victor Aular, another signatory in original document, has been arrested. And Ramirez, who lives in Rome, in an apartment that Nervis Villalobos bought and refurbished for him as part of in-kind bribe payment for approving the deal, has not even been formally charged.

It is worth rehashing what this site published in August 2020 regarding the Obertos / Ramirez scheme, for el Aissami did not add anything new. Will chavista authorities go after every last person involved?

"But it was hearsay, and there was little in the way of solid evidence. No more. In any crime, it is never what people talk about, but what can be proven in a court of law. In this, $4.25 billion money laundering case, this site has the entire chain of evidence, since inception to what ultimately represents conclusion: payment of bribes to those who got the deal going.

We have the contract between Nervis Villalobos and Derwick Associates, dated 14 January 2010, whereby Villalobos undertakes to represent Derwick and chase deals for it with Venezuelan institutions.

We have the contract between Nervis Villalobos and Atlantic (Juan Andres Wallis Brandt signing), dated 8 January 2012, whereby Villalobos undertakes to represent Atlantic in negotiations regarding a "debt plan with a State entity of first order" (read PDVSA), while Atlantic commits to pay Villalobos 4% total amount of loan agreement with PDVSA.

We have the proposal letter that Juan Andres Wallis Brandt (Obertos' proxy) sent to Rafael Ramirez on behalf of Atlantic, dated 29 February 2012.

We have Ramirez, Eulogio del Pino, Asdrubal Chavez and Victor Aular (PDVSA board) officially approving in extraordinary board meeting Wallis' deal 6 March 2012.

We have a letter signed by Ramirez, also dated 6 March 2012, pitching and justifying the deal to board members, and designating Victor Aular as person in charge for all issues pertaining contract with Atlantic.

We have the signed contract, between Atlantic (Wallis Brandt) and PDVSA (Aular), dated 12 March 2012.

We have Atlantic's (Wallis) cession of "...totality of rights and obligations..." pertaining the contract between Atlantic and PDVSA to Violet Advisors, a shell controlled by the Obertos, dated 15 March 2012. For compliance reasons, arrangement between PDVSA and Violet would change to benefit Welka Holdings Limited (UBOs Obertos) in 2013. We have the document whereby Violet cedes all rights and obligations to Welka.

We have communication sent from Violet to PDVSA, with instructions of where payments as per contract should be made (EFG Bank and Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique), dated 16 March 2012.

We have internal compliance documents, from EFG Bank, onboarding the Obertos (Violet) as well as justification for the money laundering scheme, from February 2012.

We have a legal opinion, produced by Tamara Adrian, trying to justify the deal according to Venezuelan legislation for compliance purposes, dated 9 February 2012.

We have emails, also from EFG Bank compliance dept., whereby Banco Espirito Santo informs EFG Bank that a "wire transfer ordered by PDVSA" (first ever payment - $230 million) is to reach Obertos' Violet account at EFG, dated 21 March 2012.

We have evidence, again from EFG Bank's compliance, of transfers from PDVSA's Banco Espirito Santo's account into Violet' EFG Bank's account 584684, totalling $1 billion between 21 March and 11 April 2012.

We have evidence of bribe payments made into different shells ultimately controlled by Betancourt (Minenven, Delphi, Julotti, Zoletto, Imminvest, IPC Investments, Vecon, and Sinfin). These got around $70 million from Violet into accounts held in Bank Frey, Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, HSBC, and Julius Baer, between March-April 2012.

We have registry documents from Barbados, showing that Betancourt, Francisco Convit and Pedro Trebbau are Minenven's company directors.

We have Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique's documents that link Betancourt & co, the Obertos, and Danilo Diazgranados to the scheme.

We have EFG Bank's documents that link Betancourt & co, and the Obertos, to the scheme.

We have evidence from EFG Bank linking the Obertos to Pedro Binnagia, charged in another $1.2 billion money laundering case, which also involved Francisco Convit (partner of Betancourt).

We have a letter, dated 15 May 2012, whereby Violet undertakes to honour 4% commission agreed in contract between Villalobos and Atlantic, and commits to make a "series of payments" starting in May 2012, into Vamshore Enterprises Ltd's (shell controlled by Villalobos) account number 0006 0008 2712 0054 6984 at Banca Privada d'Andorra, for services rendered by Villalobos to Atlantic in getting PDVSA to approve money laudering deal.

We have evidence, from Banca Privada d'Andorra, that shows payments made (11 July / 14 September 2012) into Vamshore's account (as described) for €55,620,453.73 that originated from Violet's account at Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique.

Luis & Ignacio Oberto wire bribes to Nervis Villalobos

We have evidence of a communication, dated 4 October 2012, sent from INTERPOL Andorra to INTERPOL's offices in Caracas, Quito, Washington, Madrid, Paris and Bern, requesting information about Villalobos and others. That is, law enforcement in, at least, Andorra, Spain, France, Switzerland, U.S., Ecuador and Venezuela have been aware of Villalobos' criminal activities since October 2012.

If this site has been able to gather enough evidence to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the corrupt nature of this $4.25 billion graft operation, how come Villlalobos and Ramirez still walk free? None of this could have happened without Ramirez. How come he has not been indicted? How come the Obertos were allowed to flee U.S. soil recently?

Today, we got terrible news: Florida star prosecutor Michael Nadler, the man who's done more than anyone to bring these thugs to justice, is leaving. There's no guarantee whatsoever that his replacement will prosecute Venezuela-related cases with similar zeal. Will these criminals get away with it?

Andorra sent Letter Rogatory to DoJ re Nervis Villalobos / Javier Alvarado

UPDATED 13/11/2020 - Investigating authorities from Andorra sent a Letter Rogatory to DoJ in January 2018 regarding involvement of Villalobos in a vast money laundering scheme. In the Letter, Magistrate Canolic Mingorance explains that Villalobos et al structured a scheme through which bribe payments "...were made through the accounts of the accused and of the Panamanian companies controlled by them at the banking entity BANCA PRIVADA D'ANDORRA, through which more than USD 2,000,000,000 passed..."

Do note, that the $2 billion that Magistrate Mingorance claims went through Banca Privada d'Andorra are separate from the Atlantic - PDVSA $4.25 billion scheme structured at EFG Bank / Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, i.e. is a different money laundering scheme.

Villalobos was summoned for declarations in Madrid, where he had been arrested in connection to this and other charges. Villalobos refused to declare, and thus it was recorded in Juzgado Central de Instrucción no 002 on 15 January 2018. Spain's Audiencia Nacional subsequently ruled against temporary extradition of Villalobos.

In the case of Javier Alvarado, also indicted in Andorra in same case, Spain's judiciary simply refused to extradite Alvarado altogether.

Rafael Ramirez was at the core of the scheme and, ultimately, had the last word in granting billions of dollars worth of contracts through his team of corrupt facilitators."

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