1707815027 PDVSA The luxury obsession of the network that looted 2

PDVSA: The luxury obsession of the network that looted $2 billion from Petróleos de Venezuela | International

PDVSA The luxury obsession of the network that looted 2

Bills for presidential suites at mega-luxury hotels totaling $1.8 million; a 1.3 million closet; Private flights to Nicaragua worth $761,497; cooking classes of 430,690; a private gym with 388,658… The network that plundered $2,000 million from Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) fell into a spiral of waste after committing the theft of the Latin American country's most important public company between 2007 and 2012. Unpublished documents that EL PAÍS had access to disclose unknown costs of this conspiracy of more than thirty people, including the former Venezuelan deputy energy ministers of the government of Hugo Chávez (2002-2013), Nervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado.

The chapter, “Refined Accommodation,” focused on the most lucrative expense item from this group of top performers, who charged up to 10% commission to open the door for companies to win awards from the Venezuelan energy giant. In 2014, the organization paid at least 1.8 million to a travel agency in Florida (Miami) for more than twenty exclusive stays in presidential suites of the Four Seasons chains in Paris, Mexico and New York as well as in the Sheraton in Frankfurt.

The plot also stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hotels in Hong Kong; Bristol of Panama; Grand Hyatt in Shanghai and the Atlantis (Bahamas) and Le Blanc (Cancun) resort complexes, which offer customers a butler, Caribbean Sea views, luxury rooms and infinity pools, according to their website. A vacation at the Mandarin Rivera Maya for $283,178 completes the new trail of waste.

The Panamanian company High Advisory and Consulting SA, controlled by businessman and alleged frontman of the group, Luis Mariano Rodríguez Cabello, was the organization's vehicle to pay the costs. Rodríguez Cabello, in turn, is the front man of Diego Salazar, cousin of the former Chavista energy minister, former president of PDVSA and former UN ambassador Rafael Ramírez, according to an Andorran judge's investigation. Since 2018, around thirty people have been prosecuted for money laundering and belonging to a network that plundered the Venezuelan public company.

Hotel stays were rounded off with luxurious extras. The group paid $430,690 for “various gifts, transportation and a cooking class” during a trip to Paris and another $538,362 for “miscellaneous expenses” on another trip to the French capital.

The project, which acquired 21 houses worth 52 million, allocated almost seven of them for the decoration and renovation of its exclusive properties. The determination of the fees showed that the group paid 1.4 million for a three-piece wardrobe, 1.3 million for furniture from an Italian company – the sum included transport from Livorno and Genoa to Venezuela – and 1.4 million for a dining room for one the offices, more than $1 million on marble supplies for a property in Caracas, $600,000 on other exclusive furniture pieces and $388,658 on a private gym.

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In addition, the network spent a million on state-of-the-art telecommunications systems, 230,000 on architectural projects, 200,000 on carpentry work and another million on lighting equipment for the private beachfront home of one of its members. An item worth 13,000 euros for a pool table completes the decoration and accessories area for the house.

Party dresses and champagne from Dom Pérignon

Taste in clothing led the organization to pay $151,716 in October 2011 for 60 black tuxedos, as many shirts and 30 sets of bows and sashes. Another indictment reveals a $131,561 payout to purchase Italian clothing from an unnamed company.

An order for 153 bottles of 2004 Dom Pérignon Champagne ($129,875); another 23 cases of this Taittinger brand drink (29,519); A purchase at the Ronchi wine bar in Milan (28,323) or a whiskey worth $55,000 offsets the expenditure on alcohol at the expense of the energy company's loot.

The organization that looted PDVSA purchased a new Eurocopter Ec135 helicopter with capacity for six passengers and a pilot in November 2011 for 2.6 million euros, this newspaper revealed. The new bank charges confirm that the network also spent $50,000 on maintaining that aircraft, $114,282 on outfitting a Beechcraft twin-turboprop private aircraft and $761,497 on private flights to Nicaragua.

The analysis of network transfers in the facility where he hid his loot, the Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA), where only the organization's frontman, businessman Luis Mariano Rodríguez Cabello, moved 1,144 million through a strand of 11 From the accounts between 2007 and 2015, it appears that the corrupt conspiracy paid its employee, EJ Villegas Carrillo, a $350,000 productivity bonus. And he provided $100,000 to Rodríguez Cabello to obtain tax residency in Dubai.

The system, founded by former executives of the late President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) and officials of the state-owned company, charged commissions of more than 10% to companies, particularly Chinese ones, that later won PDVSA contracts, this newspaper revealed. . The network hid its loot through a complicated network of accounts in the BPA.

Through thirty opaque companies based in tax havens such as Switzerland or Belize, the conspiracy shifted their money flow to Andorra, a country with 78,000 inhabitants that was protected by banking secrecy until 2017. The group concealed its millionaire income under the guise of consulting jobs that, according to the investigators, did not even exist.

Since 2018, an Andorran judge has tried around thirty members of this conspiracy for money laundering in a banking institution and belonging to a network.

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