This Tuesday, August 30, Venezuelan Minister for Petroleum, Tareck El Aissami, presented to the Public Ministry (MP) evidence of largescale fraud committed by former Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Rafael Ramírez, against Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), and asked Attorney General Tarek William Saab to open an investigation and issue an international arrest warrant.
At a press conference from the headquarters of the Public Ministry, in Caracas, El Aissami reported that evidence was filed with the attorney general in which the “most serious corruption plot that has ever been known against our oil industry” was revealed, affecting Venezuela’s patrimony.
“We have gone to the Prosecutor’s Office to denounce and record all the evidence—information and evidence that reveals one of the most serious corruption schemes that we have known in the oil industry,” said El Aissami from Caracas. “It is a mega-fraud, a mega-theft orchestrated directly by Rafael Ramírez, former Minister of Energy and Petroleum.”
The corruption plot began in February 2012, detailed El Aissami. At that time, Ramírez approved, within only one week, a financing plan for over 17 billion bolívars presented by the citizen Juan Andrés Wallis Brandt, president of the management company Administradora Atlantic 17107, CA.
The financing assets never entered the accounts of the state oil company.
From there, a network began to embezzle millions of dollars from the state oil company. El Aissami showed as evidence the letter sent and signed by Wallis Brandt to Ramírez, dated February 29, 2012, in which Wallis Brandt presents a capital financing plan for PDVSA in the amount of 17.5 billion bolívars, for a term of 24 months, alongside a series of conditions.
Six days after receiving the letter, on March 6, Ramírez called a PDVSA extraordinary shareholders’ meeting, where he signed the loan agreement under the credit line mechanism with the company Administradora Atlantic 17107, CA. El Aissami showed the document stating that the meeting was held, where the minister authorized the credit approval. The document was filed as part of the investigation requested by the Public Ministry.
“there is no record of the income of those bolívars into the PDVSA accounts,” noted El Aissami.
In this regard, El Aissami explained that on March 15, 2012, Administradora Atlantic 17107, CA “ceded this financing to two funds abroad, but transferred it in foreign currency; that is, an alleged financing that did not exist in bolívars was sold to two funds: one called Violet and another called Huelca; one based in Panama and the other in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He pointed out that these funds have two Venezuelan brothers as proxies: Luis Oberto Anselmi and Ignacio Oberto Anselmi. “They, on March 15, seized the alleged credit, because the Atlantic 17107 fund gives them the credit,” said Tareck El Aissami. These elements “were designed and executed from the perverse and corrupt mind of Rafael Ramírez.”
28 payments for almost $5 billion
Days later, on March 20, 2012, PDVSA made the first loan payment to Violet for $230 million. This payment within a line of credit was signed by the officials of the oil company, Víctor Aular and Abraham Ortega.
El Aissami detailed that in the span of a year, PDVSA made 28 payments for a total amount of $4.85 billion. He added that the attorney general, Tarek William Saab, has been provided with certified copies of the 28 transfers, “and all the information corresponding to each account of these two Violet and Vuelca funds.”
“In the same month, the alleged financing of this fund called Atlantic for 17 billion bolívars—in that same month, PDVSA had already paid $500 million,” said El Aissami. “In the second month, $800 million. In May, PDVSA had already paid $2.5 billion, and throughout the year 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, it paid a total of $4.85 billion, stolen from the assets of Venezuela’s state oil company.”
After denouncing the “mega robbery” committed during the administration of Rafael Ramírez, El Aissami announced that they had asked the Public Ministry “to initiate an exhaustive, in-depth investigation, based on … all this evidence, and therefore, we have asked Dr. Tarek William Saab to process the corresponding international arrest warrant against Rafael Ramírez, the main intellectual and material author of this mega-robbery operation against the Venezuelan oil industry.”
In 2018, the MP issued an arrest warrant for the former PDVSA official who, according to sources, resides in Italy. In July 2020, Venezuela’s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) declared the extradition request from that European country admissible, so that Ramírez would be submitted to the Venezuelan justice system for malicious embezzlement.
Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt López, cousin of fugitive from Venezuelan justice Leopoldo López, is also involved in the corruption plot against PDVSA. This character is alleged to have received part of the money stolen in this fraudulent operation.
“The two responsible are Rafael Ramírez, who engineered, orchestrated, and planned this robbery, and Leopoldo Alejandro López Betancour, who kept part of the stolen money and then shared it between them,” said El Aissami.
El Aissami reported that they requested the investigation, and all the corresponding measures, such as securing property and assets of the citizens Juan Andrés Wallis Brandt, from Administradora Atlantic; Víctor Aular Blanco, a PDVSA official; Luis Alfonzo Oberto Anselmi and Ignacio Oberto Anselmi, responsible for the funds abroad; and Nervis Villalobo, former deputy minister who ended up being an advisor for Administradora Atlantic and one of Rafael Ramírez’s henchmen.
Public Ministry conducts investigation
The attorney general, Tarek William Saab, announced on his Twitter account that the Public Ministry has initiated an investigation against Rafael Ramírez for this corruption plot.
“After receiving, from the hands of the President of PDVSA, Tareck El Aissami, the respective complaint about a new plot of oil corruption that links a group of subjects led by former Minister Ramírez, we have initiated the investigation with the necessary proceedings,” wrote the attorney general.
Shortly after, it was announced that Victor Aular, former deputy finance minister of the former Ministry for Energy and Petroleum, was arrested for the embezzlement of approximately five billion dollars from PDVSA, allegedly perpetrated by Rafael Ramírez.
“Victor Aular, who came to occupy the position of vice minister of finance during the criminal management of Rafael Ramírez, was arrested,” said the attorney general. “The subject signed the loan contract with Administradora Atlantic, responsible for an embezzlement of close to 5 billion dollars.”
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/December 9, 2023