Spain's Judiciary Friday gave the green light for the extradition to the United States of Venezuelan national Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, to account for crimes of money laundering and criminal organization.
Venezuela's former Trasurer is believed to have favored businessman Raúl Gorrín in a plot to exchange foreign currency which earned him hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the Federal Court of the Southern District of Florida, from 2008 to 2017 the two suspects participated along with other accomplices, including Díaz Guillén's husband, in a corrupt ploy through which payments were made to Venezuelan government officials to ensure an undue advantage in obtaining and withholding the right to carry out foreign currency exchange transactions at favorable rates.
To hide these payments Gorrín allegedly used bank accounts whose holders were fictitious companies and disguised numerous bribes to Díaz Guillén as payments to her husband. Between 2011 to 2013, the businessman paid bribes amounting to at least US $ 65 million through account transfers from Switzerland to the US. Gorrín also bought and defrayed expenses related to private planes, yachts, mansions, champion horses or watches, also including the purchase of fashion firms in Florida and Texas.
Díaz Guillén's defense lawyers had claimed she was being tried for the same crimes in Spain, where she has dual citizenship, but these arguments did not prevail since the judges concluded the facts investigated in Spain were not the same. Specifically, she is being investigated in Spain for the purchase of a 1.8 million euro home with money from Switzerland, while the US investigation is much broader. In fact, the court for the Southern District of Florida has indicted Díaz Guillén with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.
Díaz Guillén, a former treasurer under President Hugo Chávez, was arrested and later released along with her husband, Adrián José Velásquez, in Madrid, in December 2020, after the United States' claim, which days before, during that month, filed charges against both of them for participating in a corrupt currency exchange scheme. Despite their release, both were prohibited from leaving Spain and had to appear before the authorities on a fortnightly basis.
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