National Assembly prepares law to confiscate the fortunes of Chavismo

Some of the largest fortunes in the world are held by Chavistas, judging by the amounts involved. Opposition calculations placed at about $ 300.000 billion foreign funds Venezuelan origin who are outside, hidden in labyrinths of shell corporations and open bank accounts in tax havens.

And Venezuelan lawyer Franklin Hoet Linares wants them back.
The lawyer Franklin Hoet Linares

Hoet, who is president of the World Jurist Association, heads a group of Venezuelan lawyers who are working with the National Assembly a bill that would stimulate the search and confiscation of funds amassed through corrupt practices and are currently in possession of some of the most notorious leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution.


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«What these men have committed a crime against humanity,» Hoet told the Nuevo Herald. «The official who steals one or two million dollars is a thief, but who takes him $ 1.000 million or $ 2.000 billion a people are leaving without food, without medicine and without means to grow.»

The dimensions of corruption under the Chavez regime is one of the reasons why Venezuelans are being condemned to impoverishment and die wanes, insisted Hoet, who became a public figure in the United States in the past decade to represent 79 Venezuelans in a lawsuit against Ford and tire manufacturer Bridgestone / Firestone by frequent rollovers of the Explorer SUV.

 «The official who steals one or two million dollars is a thief, but who takes him $ 1.000 million or $ 2.000 billion a people are leaving without food, without medicine and without means to grow.»

Franklin Hoet Linares, abogado

The bill, which could become an important mechanism to take the path of reconstruction of Venezuela after Chavez out of power, inspired by US law longstanding encourage the reporting of acts of corruption (as The false Claims Act and Qui Tam Law).

And just as in the United States, reports leading to seizures of stolen funds would be rewarded by an amount up to 25 percent of the total obtained under the bill that is being prepared.

«We will create a system that rewards the complaint, as in the United States with Whistleblowers. So if you are a secretary who saw pass the bill, and you did not get anything. Or you used figurehead and gave little, well, now you the law gives you the opportunity to report and if the information provided allows funds to recover, you would going to be the end up to 25 percent of the total recovered, «said Hoet.

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Given the proportion of the hidden fortunes of Venezuela, a country considered by the NGO Transparency International as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, the potential of these rewards is huge, said lawyer and political analyst Orlando Viera Blanco, who is part of the team which is preparing the bill.

«Venezuela has about 300,000 million dollars diffuse. Most of which is presumed to have been obtained through corrupt practices, including through corruption CADIVI, «Viera said, referring to the Committee on Administration of Foreign Exchange, an organization that administered for years the sales of dollars preferred types of changes.

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 According to statements from the Chavez himself, Venezuela has lost tens of billions of dollars through corruption linked to that body, which provided cheap dollars that were supposed to be for import of essential goods but actually were sold in the black market at prices exceeding 10 or 20 times the amount in bolivars paid for them.

Other activities that would be investigated under the new law would be the huge contracts obtained through bribery of large state companies, including PDVSA, Viera said.

«Many of these operations have been it reported, including operations between PDVSA and companies briefcase, and contracting with overpricing» he said.

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According to Viera, the National Assembly is currently reviewing about 2,000 individual complaints involving government corruption.

Even if the bill broadly emulates existing legislation in the United States, the initiative has a feature that the difference of the regular process that will accelerate the confiscation of ill-gotten funds, said Hoet.

«In the regular procedure there is a presumption of good faith, the presumption of innocence, which normally makes these procedures are very long back,» said the lawyer.

In the bill, the responsibility of proof is on the defendant.

«With this law, if he gets you a fortune, it is you who has the responsibility to demonstrate their origin,» said Hoet.

«That is, if you had a salary of $ 4,000 a month and you find $ 400 million in its bank account, the presumption is reversed. A justice not to demonstrate that you stole, but you have to show how it was that came to accumulate $ 400 million, «he said.

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Although the bill has not yet been approved, Hoet is already investigating one of the most notorious cases of corruption involving Venezuelan capital were detected in the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA).

More than $ 4.000 million from the Venezuelan corruption were detected in the BPA and parts of these funds belonged to Diego Salazar, the partner of former PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez alleged.

Weeks ago, Hoet was presented in Andorra to examine records, but eventually received very little help from the local authorities, who told you have to wait for the case to be exhibited in Madrid, where he eventually will come out who the owners that fortune.

Experience in Andorra gave Hoet understand that finding the fortunes of Chavismo could sometimes be a torturous work. In its proceedings, the authorities not only refused to provide cooperation, but usually showed puzzled.

«One time I went to court and there saw me very suspiciously. Then they approached me and asked why I was doing this. And I will tell you, because it gives me a lot of pain, gives me a great shame that people are dying of decline in Venezuela, «he said.

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