One day after her conviction, US Judiciary authorities Friday released details of the modus operandi whereby a former Hugo Chávez aide and her husband collected over US$ 100 million in bribes
Chávez's former aide Claudia Díaz was found guilty Thursday by a US court of money laundering in connection with the payment of bribes from a media mogul to approve lucrative foreign exchange transactions when she served as director of Venezuela's National Treasury Office.
Díaz and her husband, Adrián Velásquez, accepted bribes worth millions of dollars and were charged with six counts at a Florida court, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice dated Dec. 16. The couple also accepted US$ 100 million in bribes from Raúl Gorrín Belisario, a multi-millionaire businessman in Venezuela who owns the Globovisión media outlet.
Gorrin, currently a fugitive from justice in the US, reportedly paid bribes to the former treasurer to have access to buy Venezuelan National Treasury bonds at a convenient exchange rate in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. The bribe was hidden in cash, which was in cardboard boxes of alleged companies abroad, as well as in Swiss bank accounts and international transfers sent by the tycoon to buy private jets and finance a clothing line founded by the couple accused of money laundering.
Díaz and Velásquez were extradited from Spain. She is known as the nurse and he is referred to as the bodyguard for having stayed within Chàvez's innermost circle from 1999 until 2013 when he died of cancer.
Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén and Adrián José Velásquez Figueroa laundered the bribes Díaz received as National Treasurer of Venezuela, said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division.
Diaz abused her position as a public official to line her pockets with more than $100 million, which she and her accomplices spent on private planes and yachts and laundered through the U.S. financial system. Whether at home or abroad, the Criminal Division and its partners are committed to vigorously combating bribery and holding corrupt officials accountable.
Unfortunately, people in positions of power and public trust sometimes break that trust and use their power for selfish gain, said U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez for the Southern District of Florida.
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