Archive for the 'MaletagateTrial' Category

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XVIII (and last?): Franklin Duran sentenced

March 17, 2009

Franklin Duran, the only man accused in the Miami Maletagate trial, who declared himself innocent, was sentenced to four years in jail and three years of parole, for acting as an agent of the Venezuelan Government without registering. He will also have to pay a fine of US$ 175,000.

Duran went to Miami with four other Venezuelans to help in the cover up of the origin of the US$ 800,000 found in the suitcase of Guido Antonini as he arrived in a PDVSA flight in Buenos Aires. Of the other four men involved in the case, three declared themselves guilty and cooperated with the prosecutor, while a fifth one is still at large.

Despite the accusations made in the Court and the testimony by the men involved and evidence in audio tapes that high level Venezuelan officials were involved in the cover-up, the Venezuelan Government has disregarded the case as a US plot.  However, the money and the evidence shows the levels of corruption and lawlessness present in the Venezuelan Government.

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XVII: Meet Guido Antonini, the suitcase man himself on CNN

November 4, 2008

So, today we get to meet St. Guido Antonini face to face on CNN. An innocent broker who never dealt directly with the Government, flew in the PDVSA plane and went to the Argentinean Presidential Palace, despite denials from that country.

Empowered by the guilty verdict, Antonini claims the suitcase was not his, it was PDVSA money and he was just being helpful. The money he says he learned later was for Cristina’s campaign and ominously for Cristina, he threatens to go to Argentina and clear up everything. Will Argentina welcome him now?

As for Chavez calling him a traitor he says he did what was right…Quite a show!!!

Antonini
Cargado por noticias24

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XVI: Guilty, guilty, guilty!

November 3, 2008

The jury in the Maletagate trial found Franklin Duran guilty of conspiracy and of acting as an illegal foreign agent in the US.
He now faces up to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced in January
of next year by the judge. Some people began thinking Duran would be
found innocent as it requires a unanimous vote to convict, but the
judge’s exhortations to the jurors indicated that most jurors wanted to
convict.

 

For
us this is simply icing in the cake. Fir Venezuelans the importance of
the Maletagate trial in Miami is not whether they would convict or not,
but more all of the evidence and details that were revealed that show
the depths to which corruption and influence peddling have ballooned
under Chavez and how corruption goes all the way to the top, even to
Hugo Chavez.

 

Because
if the trial proved something is that while Chavez may not be getting
rich, he is quite aware of the details surrounding him, as proven by
the fact that a tape showed that the autocrat had received Antonini’s
letter and the Head of the intelligence police thus acknowledged it.

 

But
beyond this, it also showed that corruption is so ingrained in the
robolution that not one of the names accused by Kauffman in his
testimony is being investigated by the Venezuelan Prosecution, who
keeps repeating that this is simply a media show and irrelevant for
Venezuela.

 

And
Chavez threatens to nationalize Duran and Kauffman’s company Venoco as
if somehow this would represent going after corruption in Venezuela,
while not going after all of those in his Government going up to the
President of PDVSA and Minister of Energy and Mines, who allowed
Venoco, Kauffman and Duran to thrive and enrich themselves under the
umbrella and protection of the robolution.

 

And
this went beyond Venoco, as the happy and wealthy partners got involved
with gas stations, buying five dozen pf them, drilling rigs and housing
for Uruguay under the auspices of the Venezuelan Government.

 

To
say nothing of the commissions they claim to have paid to the highest
ranking officials in the country’s Ministry of Finance, including a
package of US$ 25 million given to a Minister to distribute to his
cronies. Imagine what other deals we have yet to hear about because
nothing is investigated in 
Venezuela.

 

Thus, the media show in Miami has
given us a glimpse of the details of the depths of corruption. The
tales we knew about, they were reported over and over in this and other
blogs, but Kauffman gave us the details, the names and even the numbers.

 

And
to all but the Chavista fanatics, the trial has proven once again,
beyond a reasonable doubt, that this empty revolution could care less
about the poor, about ethics, about justice and about making it right
for 
Venezuela and its citizens.

 

Guilty, guilty, guilty!

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XV: Kauffman gives details of corruption rackets, nothing will be investigated in Venezuela

October 19, 2008


Co-conspirator Carlos Kauffmann who has pleaded guilty of
being an agent for the Venezuelan Government in trying to cover up the origin
of the 800,000 dollars in Antoninis suitcase, testified on Friday without the
jury being present. As explained well by Javier Caceres in Notiven, the reason
for this testimony is that the judge will allow the defense to tell the jury
that Duran was entrapped by the FBI into committing a crime, which the
prosecution wants to counteract by showing that Duran had a long history of
corruption and services with the Chavez Government and trying to fix the
Antonini problem was just a natural continuation of Durans record.

What the Prosecutor had the judge do was give details on
the earlier statements by Kauffmann on the many ways they made money off
corrupt officials in the current Venezuelan Government. This had been included
in an earlier affidavit discussed
here in this blog
, but this time Kauffmann gave a lot more details,
including many names.  El Nacional has
made a diagram
of all of the links and connections of the people involved
with Maletagate with Government officials in Venezuela and Argentina.

Kauffman began talking about the National Guard. He
mentioned sic names including General Victor Jose Molina who has denied doing “business
with Kauffmann, but did admit knowing him. He said these people handled the
finances and purchasing within the National Guard. We were their bankers¨ said
Kauffmann. We handled millions of dollars for them, charging them 10%, which I
would divide with Duran. We handled millions in cash said Kauffmann.

With the Governor of Cojedes Johnny Yanez Rangel,
Kauffmann said he had a long history. Recall that Yanez Rangel was part of a
protest in front of the US Embassy when Kauffmann was detained, where he
defended his entrepreneur friends and that local reporter Leocenis Garcia
showed that it was Kauffmann who paid Yanez vacation at the luxurious Llao
Llao hotel in Bariloche, Argentina.

According to Kauffmann, they would direct the deposits
from Cojedes State to Bancoro, a regional bank, charging 10% of which the
Governor would get a 30% kickback. They would hold and manage that 30% for the
Governor and charge him 10% for it pr year, which Kauffmann would split with
Duran. Duran and Kauffmann also got contracts for public works of the order of
US$ 10 million of which they would kick back 10-15% to the Governor.

In Vargas State, the same one that was destroyed by mudslide
in 200 and has never recovered (but remains rabidly Chavista, go figure!), they
would also direct deposits to Bancoro and kick back 40-50% to the Governor, who
they gave 250,000 US dollars for his campaign. They also executed US$ 30
million in public works, of which they would give the Governor directly 10-15%
and Governor Rodriguez would take care of distributing around to other
officials.

On the Citibank building Kauffman said that it was not a
great deal. They bought it for US$ 4.5 million and sold t two weeks later to
the Ministry of Finance for US$ 9.5 million. Kauffmann said they had to pay off
not only Minister of Finance Tobias Nobrega, but also Jesus Bermudez, Alejandro
Dopazos and Lenin Aguilera. Recall that Bermudez was caught arriving in Miami
in a private airplane with US$ 40,000 in cash for Christmas Gifts in another sign
of how the revolution has lost touch with reality. Kauffmann said he did not
mind making only US$ 200,000-300,000 on this deal, because it helped them gain
the trust of the Ministry officials and later they bought bonds for US$ 50 million,
which they later sold for US$ 100 million, paying off the Ministry officials
US$ 25 million in kickbacks.

Kauffmann also mentioned the Ministry of Education and Fogade;
the latter has been involved with a number of corruption cases, which actually led to the firing
of its Head Jesus Caldera Infante. Among other jewels, Caldera Infante gave
about US$ 50 million to a manager purportedly representing a foreign bank. The
man was shot dead in Caracas and the money was never found.

Kauffmann said that Duran and him got paid for directing
deposits to Banesco, Banco Federal, Bancoro, Banco Bolivar and Banco Canarias.
Some of these banks said that this was false and that Kauffmann had no account in
them. Well, everyone knows how official deposits are moved around the country
and I can assure you all payments are made in cash, no accounts needed.
Remember I wrote
a long post about this racket
in 2005.(Funny Kauffmann did not talk about his role in selling bonds to local banks, that was another swindle he was known to participate very actively in)

Finally testified that the Government asked them to fix
the Maletagate problem and they willingly did it because this would get them
future deals and protect their property. In fact, the Government has seized the
shares Kauffmann and Duran had in petrochemical company Venoco as part of the
local investigation which has yet to be made public and it is unclear what the
charges will be or who will be charged.

But so far, no investigation has been opened on the huge
number of Government Officials: Ministers, Governors, Generals, Head of
Intelligence and the like that have been accused of being part of the kickbacks
and corruption rackets. In any reasonable country the scandal would be huge and
the Prosecutors would be having a field day.

Not in Venezuela during the robolution.

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XIV: Various tidbits as trial wraps up

October 16, 2008

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The trial in Miami is winding up and
nothing major deserving a new article has really happened, but there have been
some loose ends that have to be mentioned for the record:

—Earlier, the Venezuelan
Prosecutor had ordered the assets of Maionica and Kauffmann seized, but had
curiously left defendant Franklin Duran out. None of them have been charged of
anything yet, but the Prosecutor made it look a little better ordering the
freeze of the assets of both Antonini and Duran.

According to an Argentinean newspaper, a customs agent that
was present when Guido Antonini went through customs with the US$ 800,000 in a
suitcase, has testified in Argentina
that other suitcases were allowed through without being checked.

—The judge in the
maletagate case said it will allow the defense to argue entrapment in the
case. Duran’s Attorney will argue that his client went to Miami
not as an agent of Venezuela
to help Guido Antonini, but to help him as a friend.

—Because of this
decision, the Prosecution has then
requested
that Carlos Kauffmann testify again before the trial ends. It was
believed that there would be no more witnesses, but the Prosecution wants to
present additional evidence to counteract the argument that Duran was acting
out of friendship.

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XIII: The defense calls a friendly and unethical witness to help Duran

October 9, 2008

It sort of gets tiring writing about Venezuela. Everything
has become so bizarre, a parody of a country and life. Yesterday it was our
parody of Maxwell Smart and the Government’s accusations of Guido Antonini
being a CIA/FBI agent. Today, it is the defense
calling on Duran’s buddy,
which seems like calling Al Capone’s second in command to vouch for him in
Court. The whole thing is sort of like watching the debate or the parody of the
debate of a certain vice-presidential candidate, after a while you can’t
distinguish between the real thing and the parody.

You see, Duran’s defense called on his buddy to testify that
In Venezuela having an intelligence identity card is normal. That to get ahead
you have to use influences. At least that was his view of the world. According
to the view of the world of this friend of Duran, who owns the duty free stores
at the country’s airports (a bad signal in itself, Maiquetia airport has been remodelled almost every year of the last 30):

“To do deals with the Government you need contacts.. a good part
of businessman and the Venezuelan population have civilian intelligence and National
Guard identifications as a way of protecting yourself, among other reasons”

He claims to have had them since 1994, which somehow in his
ethical mind makes it ok. You know, once a thief always a thief or something
like that in this guy’s very peculiar view of the world.

And to prove his bona fide credentials, he testified that
Duran asked him to contact the Tax Superintendent to see if he could provide
the appropriate documents to justify the cash in the suitcase.

Wait! I am confused! I thought this was all CIA? Or was it
FBI? You mean the cash was real?

I guess the only thing missing was for this witness, whose
best credential was his friendship with Duran and his funny dealings with the
Venezuelan Government, to say that he also carried suitcases full of cash
around.

He may have, but he could not admit it, he is a US citizen
after all.

Which proves that the robolution is fairly open and an equal
opportunity corrupter. Everyone no matter what your nationality or political
beliefs can saner and participate.

Jeez , I wish I had the time to put in a poll like Daniel
and Quico and ask my readers a few questions:

—How many Venezuelan Intelligence Police credentials have
you had in your life?

—How many National Guard credentials do you currently own?

—In your experience is it worth having them?

—How many of you know Duran, Kauffmann or Antonini?

—How many of you know a Minister, Vice-Minister, Tax
Superintendent or major Government official?

—How many of you need a credential and/or contact to make
a living in Venezuela.

—Do you consider yourself corrupt, a little corrupt or
honest?

—Have you ever had lunch with Chavez?

Who knows, you may still have time for an all expenses paid
trip to Miami courtesy of Duran’s defense and you don’t know it! And you get
your travel dollars at the official rate of exchange!

More bizarre things are already taking place, no?

The world according to the robolution: Kudos to Guido

October 7, 2008


According
to Venezuela’s Minister of the Interior and Justice
, Tarek Al Aissami, the
guy carrying the suitcase, Guido Antonini, is both an FBI and a CIA agent, in his
own precise words: “He is an agent of the FBI and a member of the CIA”.

Kudos to Mr. Antonini, who by now must be considered to be like Maxwell
Smart, Super Agent 86 by either of those agencies. Kudos, because this car
mechanic who only ten years ago was toiling in the car repair shops of the town
of La Victoria, Aragua State, managed thanks to his demonstrated abilities to
be hired by the FBI and have his membership to the CIA accepted, which I
imagine requires some form of dispensation from the US Attorney General or even
the top boss himself. Because after all, the FBI can only work in the US and
the CIA only outside that country, so that Antonini must have some sort of very special
treatment.

And he clearly deserves it due to his accomplishments in his short life
as an agent/super spy. In particular, I imagine that given the repeated
failures of the CIA all over the world, Super Agent Antonini is truly special.
He has not only succeeded in his missions, but he also managed to become a
millionaire in the process, trap the Venezuelan and Argentinean Government and
their respective oil companies and screw his former friends.

And all of that single-handedly and covertly.

In the early stage of his career, Antonini had to get close to his
old friend Franklin Duran as a way of reaching Carlos Kauffmann and partner with
them to get rich enough to be independently wealthy. He was quite successful at
this, partnering with them in a number of deals selling weapons and security
systems to Venezuelan companies as well as advising them with their
petrochemical company Venoco, even if he knew nothing about that business. But
much like Super Agent 86 and Jack Bauer of “24″, Antonini can get into Google
and learn the ropes quite fast for any business he so desires. In fact, in his last and fateful trip, Antonini supposedly was invited not only to carry the suitcase, but also to discuss Chavez’ brainchild the “Gasoducto del Sur”, a pipeline to carry non-existent Venezuelan natural gas to Argentina.

Antonini worked on this in parallel with developing Government connections. He
befriended the Governor of Cojedes State, members of the Board of PDVSA, Uruguayan
Government officials and Argentinean Government officials. To his surprise,
this actually led to more money. Thanks to the Governor of Cojedes, who he
wanted to use only politically, he got in the middle of a project by which
Venezuela would build houses in Uruguay. No houses were ever built, after all what does the Chavez Government kinow about the subject, but now
Duran accuses him of taking his half of a US$ 23 million take on their commission
on this project.

At this point, came Antonini’s most daring gamble, suggesting, I imagine, in casual
conversation that they begin carrying suitcases full of cash to help their
political buddies all over South America. Given that he was US citizen, if
caught, that would give him the opening to turn himself in and then tape his
buddies, politicians and partners spewing out their corrupt schemes. Heck, he
could even tangle up Chavez himself, who he had lunch with a couple of times,
even if he wasn’t on the same table. A daring suggestion, but Agent 86 managed to pull it through.

Antonini began carrying suitcases around full of cash, but given the lax
custom procedures in Latin America, he would never get caught. Moreover, they would always take
him in chartered jets hired by PDVSA, the Venezuelan Government and foreign Governments,
so that they would always go in through the VIP gate, where nobody would check
the suitcases. A few times, he even handed over the suitcase to be checked, but
he was waved through with that gesture so common in Latin America which clearly
says “Please don’t bother me and make me work, just move forward”. In each trip, Antonini would
slip his hand in the suitcase and grab a few thousand bucks for incidental
expenses.

A new plan had to be implemented. They talked to Hugh Hefner and he
offered an Argentinean
customs agent that was not so bad looking
a contract to appear in that
country’s Playboy magazine, in exchange for checking Antonini’s suitcase.

Then came that fateful day and the rest is history. The suitcase of
Super agent Antonini was opened by Ms. Telpuk and the US$ 800,000 in cash was found.
Just to make it look even worse, he left the half of the money that was his by
law at customs. He even hung around for a couple of days to make it look good
and even went to a cocktail party at the Presidential palace in Buenos Aires, at
which Chavez was present. The food was good and the Malbec was excellent, even
if he always drank Scotch as part of his cover with the robolutionaries.

He then flew to the US where the tape recorders were ready. He asked for help and millions,
and the robolution was willing to deliver. What was one more suitcase? One more
dirty operation? Afew more million in cash? He was after all, one of them, one more corrupt operator and robolutionary that
needed to be financed and protected.

What they did not realize is that he was Guido Antonini. Super Agent 86,
an FBI agent and rank and file member of the CIA. He entrapped them all, friends and foe, Vice-Presidents, Heads of of not so Intelligence Offices and the like. He wrote to Chavez and got a response! Even Minsiter Al Aissami called his buddies!

He was in the end, the best CIA operator of the last few decades. He did all of this alone. Not bad for a car mechanic from La Victoria.

Kudos
to him, kudos to “Maxwell” Antonini, Super Agent 86!

Next stop for Super Agent 86? It’s unclear, too many problems in the world and he
could fix them all: Iran, Russia, Iraq or even Pakistan.

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XII: Socialist Impunity

October 5, 2008

Teodoro Petkoff nails it on the head on the inaction by Venezuela’s Prosecutor on the accusations against high Government officials in the Miami trial

“Socialist Impunity” by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual

For the gringos the trial in Miami has one purpose: to demonstrate that those on trial violated US laws by acting as agents of a foreign Government, without registering to that effect in front of the authorities of that country. If they can demonstrate that and they condemn them it will not be for being corrupt (in Venezuela) or for money laundering (in Argentina) but for violating US laws. That they are corrupt is not their problem, but to demonstrate that they are agents of a Foreign Government-in this case, that of Chacumbele-the Prosecutor has to demonstrate the existence of strong links between those on trial and the high officials of Chacumbele’s Government. And those links, as we all know and we are seeing very clearly, are not very saintly. Thus, if to the gringos this aspect is not of their interest it is of overwhelming interest to us Venezuelans what the trial is evidencing on matters of highflying corruption. Here the Prosecutor’s office has ordered the capture of Antonini and also of Kauffmann and Maionica and they have ordered the freeze of the assets of Kauffmann and Maionica. All a bluff. The Prosecutor knows that these gentlemen will not come back to Venezuela for a while. On the other hand, this small reporter has to inquire, the Prosecutor’s office has nothing to ask General Rangel Silva, or to Rafael Ramirez, or to Jorge Rodriguez, or to Tarek Al Aissami and the other personalities that have floated in the interrogations of the singing boys of Miami? Isn’t there enough evidence that they were no only “mailmen” of people very high up in the Government, who they provided services like that of bringing some change to the friends in Argentina, in exchange for influence and access to the dirty deals in PDVSA? Isn’t it clear by now that the high capos of the officialist Cosa Nostra, surely on orders from the Godfather, tried to have Antonini’s partners convince him not to talk in exchange for protection? We don’t care if the singing boys violated US laws, but we are supremely worried that they have violated ours and that to their accomplices, who are here and not in Miami, Venezuelan Justice guarantees them total “socialist” impunity.

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part XI: Kauffmann testifies as trial winds down

October 4, 2008

It was the time for Carlos Kauffman to testify day before yesterday
and yesterday and Kauffman, the former partner of Duran in all his business
dealings, did not disappoint with his disclosers.

First he said that the whole thing was quite simple, he
and Duran we sought to “fix” the problem of Antonini and the suitcase because
of their ties.

According
to Kauffmann
he talked directly to then Vice-President Jorge Rodriguez who
told him that he knew everything and that PDVSA was involved in the case. He
ratified the money was for the campaign of Cristina Kirchner.

Kauffmann said that he and Duran offered
to help
on the cover-up and their reward would be “new contacts, more money
and more power..It was going to be beneficial to us”. Jeez, the robolution
can be so generous, no?

Kauffmann revealed that the whole cover up began on August
30 2007, when he met with the Head of Venezuela’s Intelligence Police, General
Henry Rangel. Rangel has been accused by the US Government of cooperating with
the FARC’s drug trafficking

According to Kauffman, they met in Rangel’s office in the presence
of Moises Maionica   and they
told Rangel they would help solve the scandal and he could count on them. He
said they were concerned because the name of Antonini was associated with them
and they were afraid their business dealings would be affected by the maletagate
case.

The Prosecution also introduced the Venezuelan Naval
Intelligence credential that was found on Duran when he was detained. According
to local paper El Nacional the credential is not honorific and it is quite real
and in the end it may be the strongest evidence of the prosecution, after all,
the main accusation against Duran and buddies is that they were Government
agents.

While much
was made
of the “differences” between Antonini’s version and that of the
customs agent that found the suitcase, the discrepancy is as to why Antonini
was carrying the suitcase. Antonini has claimed that he was helping someone in
carrying the suitcase, while the customs agent said that she asked whose
suitcase it was and Antonini said it was his.

But what was key, was that the custom agent did not say
that she had checked all of the luggage, just that all of it went through the
x-ray machine and she noticed something in the now infamous $800,000 suitcase.
By the time she had that one open, the rest of the luggage and the people had
moved on.  Thus, all of it went
through the machine but only this suitcase was opened.

At some point the judge in the trial seem to suggest there
was sufficient evidence to find Duran guilty of being a foreign Government
agent and asked the defense if he would bring new evidence to the contrary.

The defense brought Duran’s nephew to testify that it was
Antonini who asked for help, not the other way around. This angle seems
surprising, given evidence that the men were acting on behalf of the Venezuelan
Government, independently of who initiated the request for help.

The trial seems to be winding down and it will resume on
Tuesday.

The Miami Venezuelan Maletagate trial part X: A Venezuelan court orders the assets of Maionica and Kauffmann seized

September 27, 2008

In another bizarre twist to the Maletagate trial in Miami, local newspaper Ultimas Noticias says today (by subscription) that the 18th. Circuit Court of Caracas has ordered the assets of Moises Maionica and Carlos Kauffmann frozen. In the case of Kauffmann, this includes his majority ownership in petrochemical company Venoco.

The order is quite weird as no reason has been given for it and no similar order has been given for the assets of either Guido Antonini or Franklin Duran, the two other main characters in the Miami trial.

Recall in particular, that the trio Duran, Kauffmann, Antonini worked together, but Maionica was part of the Government’s emissaries to get Antonini off the hook. They had no prior close relationship. Moreover, the Duran/Kaufmann duo was at the center of all dealings and Antonini was more their partner in deals involving the US, due to his US citizenship.  Thus, pairing only Maionica and Kauffmann is quite strange, to say the least.

Recall that at some point Duran tells Antonini, in one taped conversation, that the Venezuelan Government may take everything away from them, including Venoco. Maybe Duran’s prize for not singing, is that he will be able to keep his assets.

Stay tuned, the show goes on!

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