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U.S. Accuses Hugo Chávez’s Former Minister of Bribery and Money Laundering

claudia diaz extesorera chavez

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The U.S. government accused former Venezuelan national treasurer Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén and her husband, Adrián José Velásquez Figueroa, of the crimes of “bribery and money laundering,” the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Both were accused for their alleged participation in a “money laundering and currency exchange scheme” worth “billions of dollars,” the agency said in a statement.

The charge against Venezuelans Díaz Guillén, 47, and Velásquez Figueroa, 41, both residents of Madrid, Spain, was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida on the charge of “conspiracy to commit money laundering” and two other charges of “money laundering.

The accusation alleges that Raúl Gorrín Belisario, 52 years old, owner and president of the Venezuelan channel Globovisión, paid millions of dollars in bribes to two Venezuelan national extortionists, Alejandro Andrade Cedeño and Díaz Guillén, and to Velásquez, for her benefit “to corruptly secure the rights to carry out foreign exchange transactions for the Venezuelan government at favorable rates.

Gorrín, the prosecution says, “transferred money electronically for the benefit of Andrade and Díaz, including money for private jets, yachts, houses, champion horses, high-end watches and a fashion line.

The Venezuelan media entrepreneur, who is considered a fugitive by the U.S. Justice Department, and who resides in Venezuela, was formally charged in August 2018 as an accomplice to the same charges of “conspiracy to launder money” and “money laundering”.

Andrade Cedeño, 56 years old, also a Venezuelan citizen, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November 2018 for his “participation in the conspiracy to commit money laundering.”

As part of the plea agreement, Andrade admitted that he received more than $1 billion in bribes from Gorrín and others involved “in exchange for using his position as Venezuelan national treasurer to select them to make currency exchange transactions at favorable rates for the country.

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