A Venezuelan money laundering investigator currently seeking asylum in the United States claims his research has unveiled at least $800 billion of illicit funds have been laundered through Venezuela.
Alejandro Rebolledo, who was appointed by the Venezuelan National Assembly to investigate international money laundering, told El Nacional in an interview that he had been forced to leave Venezuela after facing multiple death threats and physical attacks while conducting his investigations.
“Their objective was to find me and retrieve the information I have been handling for many years on money laundering in Venezuela,” Rebolledo said.
Robelledo found that as many as 100 individuals from companies across Latin America, Hong Kong, and Dubai, as well as international criminal cartels in Mexico and Colombia, had funneled money through Venezuela’s government-owned oil companies since Hugo Chávez took power in 1999, to the tune of $800 billion.
Venezuelan government agencies – such as National Center for Foreign Commerce (CENCOEX), which administers the country’s currency exchange system – and state oil companies, such as Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), have repeatedly engaged in overbilling, under-invoicing, and high levels of corruption in order to launder the money, Robelledo claimed.
The country also has a long history of financing terrorism, with a State Department report in July finding that Venezuela had repeatedly provided “a permissive environment” for Hezbollah and continues to refuse to cooperate with the United States on counterterrorism efforts.
This week, Rebolledo met with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro, and a representative from the European Union to discuss an international response to the laundering.
Amid the widespread financial corruption, Venezuela is currently experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in its history, as people struggle to survive with the exponential rates of inflation that has led to chronic shortages of basic resources such as food, medicine, electricity, and sanitary products.
Last week, Venezuela’s recently ousted prosecutor general Luisa Ortega Díaz, a former loyalist to Hugo Chávez, accused socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro of personally profiting from his food ration delivery system, claiming that he was a part owner of the Mexican company providing it.
Meanwhile, last week President Donald Trump placed additional sanctions against the Venezuelan regime, which includes a ban on Americans buying Venezuelan bonds or that of its state-run oil company. Previous sanctions targeted dictator Nicolas Maduro on a personal level by freezing some of his assets, banning travel, and prohibiting Americans from dealing with him.