Archive for February 22nd, 2006

Corruption is rampant as the Government tries to contain scandals

February 22, 2006


The
Government appears to be quite aware of the impact that corruption charges are
having on its popularity as the lack of results is partially blamed on corruption
and scandals seem to be exploding all over the place. It is clear that the
National Assembly wants to make a showcase of the corruption
denounced in the sugar plant
in Barinas state to show people that
Government means business about fighting graft in its activities. But there are
so many forces in play that the case gets very confusing at times, as internal
bickering brings the worst out in those involved in the case.

 Yesterday the military seemed to be defending
their own from the corruption charges as some of them tried to exonerate General
Gomez Parra from any responsibility in the case. But then today, the Army’s
investigation council reveals
that Gomez’ brother bought a nice car with money stolen from the sugar plant. Additionally,
in the dance of millions, the brother of a Mayor of the army engineering unit in
charge of the project was paid without actually doing any work, companies did
nothing but got paid and in perhaps the most remarkable charge of all, a
company by the name of Rafarber had the required 5% withholding tax taken out from
the payments it received from the 62nd. Engineering unit, but the
amount withheld was a little over Bs. 25 million, while the amount turned over
by the regiment to the tax office was only Bs. 9 million. I wonder if they also
stole the toilet paper!

Thus,
there seemed to be no honesty anywhere in this project, as everything was
ripped off, and the military officers involved in the project apparently felt
they were untouchable. And they were, until pro-Chavez paper Ultimas Noticias
broke the story and it could not be held back.

But too
many things remain unexplained in this case. While the investigation continues
to be for a token Bs. 3 billion, it is clear from the fact that the money has now
run out and what
little has been built
that the amounts absconded by the military are much
larger than what is being investigated, of at least US$ 200 million. On top of
that, the Minister of Agriculture who covered up the evidence in the case for
electoral reasons was removed today, but so far there has only been one call to
have him prosecuted for this. Shades of the corruption seen in the Bolivar 2000
project, where none of the Generals removed on corruption charges, were ever
prosecuted.

Meanwhile,
one hears no complaints from Chavistas about the self-imposed silence by the
media on the blatant cases of corruption all over the country. In one of the
most well known cases, the new “boli bourgeois” want to take over all sorts off
businesses owned today by the private sector. One case is the Puerto Cabello port, the most important for
imports. Relatives of military and Cabinet members are showing up to “take over”
both dock operators and storage companies in the name of the revolution. One
person mentioned is Admiral Turchio, who apparently is behind the decision by
the port authority to unilaterally and without explanation cancel licenses and
concessions.

A number
of well known companies have been affected by this according to Veneconomia. Conacentro
(Maersk) suffered a forced expropriation, Transgar is being pressured to give up
its areas at the docks and DISA had its license unilaterally revoked. All
requests for injunctions in these cases have received no replies from the
judicial system as “Bolivarian” companies owned by military, former military
and relatives of civilians in Government take over.

Meanwhile,
other sides of the Bolivarian family acquire three banks, the La Tele TV
station and manufacturing companies and a preserves company, also according to
Veneconomia. All of this is run by none other than Jesse Chacon’s (the Minister
of Justice) brother who we have written
about before
. His name is Arne, a former Lieutenant that participated in the
1992 coup with Chavez and has now gone from rag to riches becoming a banker. Chacon
is President and majority owner of investment bank Baninvest; last we heard,
the Superintendent of banks said he would check this transaction carefully. As
usual in the robolution, that was the last we heard of this over six months ago.
Nothing else ahs been said.

Couple
that with the stories from complinet of the last week in vcrisis and this blog,
where the Chavez agribusiness arm is revealed buying companies in Mexico and
holidng doznes of offshore bank accounts and what we have is an amazing wealth transfer
from the private sector to the boli bourgeois all in the name of the robolution.

Meanwhile,
the poor are doing as well or as badly as when Chavez took over, despite the
huge oil windfall.

Such a
pretty revolution!

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