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Chavez’s ‘Nurse’ Guilty of Money Laundering

"Enfermera" de Chávez culpable de lavado de dinero, EFE

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Venezuela’s former national treasurer Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén and her husband, Adrián José Velásquez Figueroa, who was Hugo Chávez’s security chief, both extradited from Spain to the USA, were found guilty on Tuesday of money laundering charges, but their lawyer told FEE that she will appeal.

Marissel Descalzo confirmed that Diaz Guillen was found guilty of two charges and acquitted of one, and her husband was found guilty of the three charges against him.

When asked if she would appeal, she answered with a clear and categorical “yes” and excused herself from further comment because, she said, she had to speak “with the family” of her clients.

Following the jury’s verdict, Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, of the federal courts in Fort Lauderdale (40 kilometers from Miami), will hand down the sentence on a date yet to be determined.

The verdict is partially “sealed,” meaning that the jury’s argument cannot be accessed through electronic court records.

It is clear that Diaz Guillen was found guilty on all but one count, while Velasquez Figueroa was found guilty on all counts.

“Neither Guillén’s wife nor her husband committed the crimes alleged by the government,” Descalzo told FEE on Nov. 20, days before the trial began.

Among those called to testify by the Prosecutor’s Office was also former Venezuelan treasurer Alejandro Andrade Cedeño, who reached an agreement with prosecutors and avoided trial by pleading guilty.

Raúl Gorrín Belisario, owner and president of the Venezuelan channel Globovisión, who is considered a fugitive by the American justice system, is accused in the same case in the federal courts of South Florida.

Chavez's 'Nurse' Guilty of Money Laundering
Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén. (FEE)

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Gorrín paid millions of dollars in bribes to Chávez’s “nurse” and Andrade Cedeño to secure the rights to carry out foreign currency exchange transactions at favorable rates.

The couple, extradited from Spain, she in May and he in October of this year, is known as the “nurse” and “bodyguard” of the former president of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013 from cancer.

In the last months, the lawyers of Chavez’ “nurse” tried unsuccessfully to have Judge Dimitrouleas accept the argument that the American Government lacks “extraterritorial jurisdiction” to judge her.

Both she and her husband have dual Venezuelan-Spanish nationality.

They were arrested in Spain in 2021 after being wanted by the United States for money laundering-related offenses.

The defense asserts that neither Diaz, who pleaded not guilty, nor Velasquez Figueroa “transmitted, transported or transferred any monetary instrument to the United States in furtherance of any unlawful activity.”

Diaz Guillen was part of Chavez’s health team before being appointed national treasurer, a position she held from 2011 to 2013, and her husband was her security chief.

After Chavez’ death they left the country and after a brief stay in the Dominican Republic they settled in Spain.

Venezuela requested his extradition to Spain in 2018 and it was approved on October 25, 2018 by the National Court for the crimes of money laundering, association to commit a crime and enrichment in their own country.

But Spain reversed its decision, considering that their integrity was in “danger” in Venezuela, an argument that the Prosecutor’s Office of the South American nation rejected as “a political decision, motivated by the support given by the Spanish government” to the opposition.