Ex-Venezuelan treasurer is extradited to South Florida


Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents escort former Venezuelan nationwide treasurer Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén out of Miami International Airport on Thursday evening after her flight arrived from Spain. She was extradited to South Florida to face foreign-corruption and money-laundering conspiracy fees.

Handout, Homeland Security Investigations, Miami

A former Venezuelan nationwide treasurer was extradited from Spain to South Florida Thursday evening to face fees of accepting tens of millions in bribes from a billionaire businessman who paid her and her husband via Miami financial institution accounts so the tycoon may make a fortune off the Venezuelan authorities’s profitable forex change system.

Former Venezuelan treasurer Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén had her first look in federal courtroom in West Palm Beach on Friday morning. Her arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday.

Díaz was charged in 2020 with accepting the bribes from Raul Gorrín, who has had shut relationships with Venezuela’s socialist presidents over the previous decade. Her husband, Adrián Velásquez Figueroa, awaits extradition from Spain.

A federal grand jury charged all three defendants with foreign-corruption and money-laundering conspiracies, constructed upon an earlier case introduced towards Gorrín in 2018. The connection to Miami’s banking system is the muse of the money-laundering case, which facilities on the Venezuelan treasury’s issuance of bonds and the Gorrín-led group’s exploitation of the federal government’s bolivar-dollar change system.

All three defendants are accused of utilizing Miami financial institution accounts to obtain and conceal tens of millions stolen from the Venezuelan authorities a decade in the past, in accordance with an indictment.

Gorrín, 54, who owns a TV station in Venezuela together with now-frozen luxurious properties in Miami and New York, is accused of enjoying the lead position within the alleged bribery conspiracy throughout the presidency of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013. Gorrín, who has been designated a fugitive within the Miami case, continued to wield his affect throughout the presidency of Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro.

“ln total, [Gorrín] paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to secure the rights to engage in over $1 billion in foreign currency exchange transactions that resulted in profits to [him] of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the indictment says. To safe “this improper advantage” Gorrín used each private and company financial institution accounts “to wire bribe payments” to Miami for Díaz and her husband in addition to her predecessor as Venezuela’s nationwide treasurer, the indictment says.

Both Díaz, 49, a former nurse for Chávez who served as nationwide treasurer between 2011 and 2013, and her husband, Velásquez, 43, had been dwelling in Spain earlier than her extradition Thursday.

Díaz’s protection lawyer, Marissel Descalzo, stated her shopper “denies the accusations contained in the superseding indictment and denies she was involved in any wrongdoing as alleged by the government.”

Gorrín’s lawyer, Howard Srebnick, has persistently stated his shopper did nothing flawed.

The couple, together with Gorrín, are amongst greater than dozens of former Venezuelan authorities officers, enterprise folks and associates who’ve been charged with cash laundering in Miami stemming from a collection of overseas corruption probes led by Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The alleged embezzlement of billions has contributed to the previous oil-rich nation’s financial collapse, resulting in a widespread lack of meals, housing and drugs, together with an exodus of tens of millions of Venezuelans.

Díaz succeeded Alejandro Andrade as Venezuela’s treasurer. Andrade, who had as soon as been Chávez’s bodyguard, pleaded responsible and was sentenced to 10 years in 2018 after cooperating with U.S. authorities and secretly offering proof on her, her husband, Gorrín, and a Venezuelan banker who operated a financial institution within the Dominican Republic to steer among the bribery funds to the group, in accordance with indictment and different courtroom information.

Andrade, 58, whose sentence was considerably reduce for his cooperation, admitted in a plea deal that he had purchased an equestrian property in Palm Beach County together with a steady of show-jumping horses in addition to a fleet of unique automobiles with the bribery funds from Gorrín. The former nationwide treasurer, who served within the Venezuelan authorities between 2007 and 2010, turned over $300 million in financial institution accounts and different property to the U.S. authorities.

The forfeiture judgment towards Andrade totaled $1 billion, however that quantity was based mostly on what he was anticipated to obtain from Gorrín for facilitating their alleged currency-exchange racket via the Venezuelan authorities.

Gorrín paid lots of of tens of millions of {dollars} in bribes to Andrade each earlier than and after his tenure as nationwide treasurer as a result of he had launched the rich businessman to his successor, Díaz, in accordance with the indictment. Díaz continued to offer Gorrín entry to the Venezuelan authorities’s worthwhile forex change system, simply as Andrade had finished throughout his tenure.

Gorrín is accused of paying $65 million to Díaz and her husband, Velásquez, together with transferring about $9 million from financial institution accounts in Switzerland to accounts in Miami between October 2012 and May 2013, in accordance with the indictment.

The conspiracy case cites 4 wire transfers for $4.35 million, $4 million, $485,000 and $281,000 from Gorrín’s financial institution accounts in Switzerland to Miami accounts for the couple’s profit, in accordance with fees filed by Justice Department trial attorneys Vanessa Sisti and Paul Hayden and Miami federal prosecutor Kurt Lunkenheimer. An enormous chunk of that cash went in direction of shopping for a yacht for the couple, the costs say.

This story was initially revealed May 13, 2022 9:53 AM.

Jay Weaver writes about federal crime on the crossroads of South Florida and Latin America. Since becoming a member of the Miami Herald in 1999, he’s coated the federal courts nonstop, from Elian’s custody battle to A-Rod’s steroid abuse. He was a part of the Herald crew that received the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for breaking information on Elian’s seizure by federal brokers. He and three Herald colleagues had been 2019 Pulitzer Prize finalists for explanatory reporting for a collection on gold smuggling between South America and Miami.

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