The late Diego Armando Maradona, who is thought to be among the best soccer players in history, was paid in gold for his trips and dealings with Venezuela to evade the sanctions imposed by the United States on Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
The sanctions imposed on Venezuela’s dictatorship are designed to ensure that Maduro doesn’t benefit from illegal gold mining operations, state oil operations, or other commercial transactions that enable criminal activity and human rights abuses.
Maradona reportedly received gold pieces in exchange for helping the regime to “unblock” a debt with the Italian company Casillo.
On Thursday, the existence of some audios that reveal how the Argentine ex-player and renowned soccer coach received payments from Maduro came to public light. The audios were found in a cell phone used by Maradona.
“There they are making some payments in gold because they have all the accounts blocked, but well, God willing we are going to solve the contracts so that everything stays the same,” said in an audio from March 2019 the lawyer Matias Morla to Diego Armando Maradona.
In the series of messages that were released, one can hear the lawyer’s efforts to trying to convince Maradona to travel to Venezuela.
According to an investigation by the Infobae portal, the Italian company hired Maradona as a “lobbyist” to expand its sales in Latin America. It is a company “world leader in the commercialization of durum wheat” that paid the former soccer player a percentage of total grain sales.
According to the 2015 contract accessed by Infobae, it charged US$3 per metric ton sold by Casillo to Venezuela and Nicaragua. In the case of Cuba, the commission was reduced to $1.8 per ton.
But as the payment modality became complicated due to the sanctions of the United States and European countries, the payments from Maduro’s regime to the company began to crumble, affecting the amount charged by Maradona. From then on, the dictatotship began to settle its debts with gold.
Although Maradona finally did not travel to Venezuela in 2019, according to Infobae Casillo’s debt with the star would exceed US$20 million.