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How Bad Bunny’s Rise to Stardom Was Financed by a Former Chavista Official

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Puerto Rican singer Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio — known artistically as Bad Bunny — is currently one of the most successful artists of the moment. His most recent concert in Puerto Rico was historic. His latest album Un Verano Sin Ti keeps selling, adding plays and receiving praise from the public and the international press. His world tour has generated $120 million thus far, breaking numerous records. There’s no doubt that Bad Bunny is an unprecedented phenomenon for urban music. His career keeps creating a musical empire that has everything to continue triumphing in the future, but that may have a stain on its origins.

Bad Bunny’s Manager and a Scathing Lawsuit

According to a lawsuit filed in Puerto Rico by Gretchen Marie Hernández Rivera (in the Court of First Instance Chamber of San Juan), Bad Bunny’s musical career began thanks to the company Rimas Entertainment. This company was founded by businessman and music manager Noah Assad Byrne who allegedly received $2 million from a former Venezuelan military officer and former top official of the government of the late Hugo Chávez, later becoming a partner of the firm that represents the Puerto Rican artist.

He is Rafael Ricardo Jiménez Dan, who now resides in Florida, and according to the Poderopedia database, was Vice Minister of Legal Security in the Ministry of Internal Relations and Justice from January 30, 2006 to 2013.

Plaintiff Hernández Rivera is the former partner of Noah Assad, who not only manages Bad Bunny’s career but has also signed other established artists such as Tommy Torres, Corina Smith, Karol G, Eladio Carrión, Arcángel, Mora, Mickey Wooz, Amennazi, Jowell & Randy, among others. Journalist Oscar J. Serrano, of NotiCel, was the first to report Jimenez Dan’s ties with the man who represents Bad Bunny.

Hernandez Rivera seeks to gain half the worth of Assad’s business enterprises, including Rimas Entertainment.

According to the woman, although they were not formally married, she was a key part of the successful empire created by Assad, with whom she lived for several years and had two children.

In the lawsuit, Hernandez Rivera’s attorneys claim how the woman met Assad and helped the manager to exploit his business skills in the music industry.

Page 9 of the suit reveals the link between former Chavista vice minister Jimenez Dan and Noah Assad and how he provided initial funds to launch the Bad Bunny-Rimas Entertainment empire.

“In 2014, (Assad Byrne) met a Venezuelan named Rafael Ricardo Jimenez Dan, a former vice minister in the government of Hugo Chavez, who at the time had just left Venezuela to reside in Weston, Florida,” the lawsuit reads in Spanish. “Co-defendant Jiménez-Dan loaned and/or invested money (to Assad Byrne) to open a recording studio. That same year, (Hernandez Rivera and Assad Byrne) were able to make one of their dreams come true when Rimas Entertainment, LLC was incorporated, with additional money contributed and/or loaned by Venezuelan Jimenez-Dan ($2,000,000), who also paid (Assad Byrne’s) personal debts.”

“Co-defendant Jimenez-Dan purchased a house in Ocean Park for Rimas Entertainment to operate from there. Plaintiff Hernandez began working in those offices, assisting in all kinds of management, including handling the company’s human resources. Then they moved the operations of Rimas Entertainment to Piloto 151 in Santurce, in which she again participated. Later, the offices were relocated to Miramar (San Juan), premises that the plaintiff Hernandez designed, decorated and organized,” the text continues.

Bad Bunny 2 millones de dólares chavismo

Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny attends the premiere of the movie ‘Bullet Train’ at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 1, 2022 (EFE)

Three years later, in 2017, Noah Assad discovered a grocery “bagger” who wanted to be a singer. The young man uploaded his songs to SoundCloud. Assad listened to them, liked them, and was encouraged to see the young man in a show in Puerto Rico. He then played the songs to his former partner Hernandez Rivera, who also liked the songs.

“Co-defendant Assad met that young singer and, after consulting with plaintiff Hernandez, decided to sign him as his manager and manager through co-defendant Rimas Entertainment. That young man’s name is Benito Martinez. Thus began the relationship of Rimas Entertainment and the parties to this case with Benito Martinez, better known as ‘Bad Bunny'”.

Who Funded Bad Bunny’s Rise to Fame?

According to Poderopedia’s biography, Jimenez Dan is a former army captain and is now retired. He graduated from the same military class as Diosdado Cabello, Venezuela’s second-highest official (wanted for drug trafficking), and former Interior Minister Jesse Chacón (with whom Jiménez Dan worked very closely for years).

The same biography states that Jiménez Dan is the owner of Rialfi Consulting, C.A., a company “in charge of providing consulting and project execution services in the technological, strategic, organizational, managerial and operational areas. This company has provided services to government agencies such as Banco del Tesoro and Instituto Venezolano del Seguro Social (IVSS)”.

Likewise, he is also manager of five companies in Miami and director of four others in Panama, including Twistar Enterprises Business Corp, which “according to the National Register of Contractors, has performed work in Venezuela for two non-governmental companies called Inversiones Malina, C.A. and Promociones Urbanas Promurca, C.A.”, reported Poderopedia.

The businessman linked to Chavismo has some controversies on his shoulders. In 2017, Jiménez Dan and his wife, Venezuelan judge Dayva Soto, were criticized by part of the Venezuelan community in Miami for living in a luxurious mansion located in an exclusive development in Weston. The Venezuelans — who fled their country due to the economic and social crisis generated by Chavismo — questioned the former vice minister and Soto for buying a $1,150,000 house while they were salaried officials. The couple defended themselves by saying that they bought the house in 2014 with a mortgage loan.

This is a developing story.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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