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U.S. charges former Venezuelan treasurer, husband with accepting bribes

Venezuelan businessman Raul Gorrin Belisario was added to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Most Wanted list in January. Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Website
Venezuelan businessman Raul Gorrin Belisario was added to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Most Wanted list in January. Photo courtesy of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Website

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has charged a former Venezuelan treasurer and her husband for accepting bribes from a businessman seeking to make hundreds of millions of dollars by taking advantage of Venezuela's foreign currency exchange.

The indictment field Tuesday but announced Wednesday charges Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen, 47, and her spouse, Adrian Jose Velasquez Figueroa, 41, with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering.

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According to the court document, Diaz and Velasquez, who now reside in Madrid, Spain, accepted million in bribes from Raul Gorrin Belisario as part of a scheme with others to take advantage of foreign currency exchanges conducted by the Venezuelan government.

"In total, Raul Gorrin Belisario paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to secure the rights to engage in over $1 billion in foreign currency exchange transactions that resulted in profits to Raul Gorrin Belisario of hundreds of millions of dollars," the indictment said.

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Gorrin is accused of making corrupt payments to government officials including Diaz and her treasurer predecessor, Alejandro Andrade Cedeno, to gain and retain the rights to conduct foreign currency exchange transactions at favorable rates, prosecutors said.

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To conceal the bribes, Gorrin is accused in the indictment of using the bank accounts of shell companies and disguised those intended for Diaz by making the payments to her husband.

"Gorrin wired money to and for the benefit of Andrade and Diaz, including money for private jets, yachts, homes, champion horses, high-end watches and a fashion line," the Justice Department said in a release.

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Gorrin, who has a residence in Miami, is accused by the Justice Department of paying Diaz at least $65 million.

Andrade, 56, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November 2018 for his role in the conspiracy and admitted in his guilty plea of receiving more than $1 billion in bribes from Gorrin and others involved in the scheme.

Gabriel Arturo Jimenez Aray, a former owner of a Dominican Republic bank, was also sentenced to three years in November 2018 after pleading guilty to conspiring with Gorrin to help him launder bribe money.

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Gorrin, who owns Globovision news network, was charged in August of 2018, and is currently a fugitive residing in Venezuela. He was added to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Most Wanted list in January.

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