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Interpol Blocked 40% of Red Alerts for Venezuelan Bankers

More than 40% of the red alerts requested of Interpol by Venezuela in the case of the fugitive bankers have been blocked over the last year, by a committee of lawyers working for the international organisation. The lawyers consider the investigations [by the Venezuelan government] to be directly linked with political persecution.

At least twenty people being investigated by the Attorney General’s office for supposed crimes of appropriation and embezzlement of bank clients’ money, as well as illegal approval of credits, have gone to the administrative commission of the International Police (Interpol) to try to get the international search suspended.

According to a list provided by sources in the [Venezuelan] Public Prosecutor’s Office, during 2010 49 arrest warrants were solicited for that many bankers in various offices of Interpol, leaving 40.81% ineffective at the international level.

Among the bankers favoured [by the freezing of the international warrants] are Nelson Mezerhane, owner of Federal Bank; Pedro Torres Ciliberto, father and son of Banco Real; Gonzalo Tirado Yepez of Inverunion; Eligio Cedeno, fugitive of the Caracas Justice Palace in December 2009 and under investigation for  diversion of bank resources; among others.

“Since September there have been massive blocks [of the alerts],” said commissioner Nolberto Simancas, head of Interpol Caracas, who explained that the requests have been appealed under article three of the statutes of the international organisation, which states that the institution “does not get involved in religious, political, military, or racial issues”.

Along those lines, the lawyers defending the bankers have presented a range of documents and videos to show that their causes isn’t one of impartial and fair investigation, but rather is persecution launched by the president of the republic, Hugo Chavez.

Simancas said the blocking of the warrants has been quick because the first block created a precedent which then includes any other person under the same investigation.

The CICPC officer [Simancas- Criminal, Penal, and Scientific Investigations Unit] regretted that politics was interfering in police relations of cooperation, as “Interpol is a window to other countries” when one is a member of it. Interpol groups together 188 nations and its head office is in Lyon, France.

Sources from CICPC assured that the numbers of beneficiaries of the suspention of the red alert against them was over 40% as just in the last year Venezuela submitted 65 requests in the bankers’ case. “60% have been blocked,” they said.

During 2010 the national government intervened in 17 banking entities in the country for irregular management of capital, directly affecting thousands of clients who had their savings in those institutions. This resulted in a penal investigation by the Attorney General’s office.

After a year of investigations fifteen people linked with national banking were arrested and waiting sentence, 26 have been released on precautionary measures, and 49 are wanted by the police.

It was discovered that attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz commissioned a group of professionals from the Attorney General’s office among the Doctrine and Investigation authorities, so that they put together a document that will be presented to the heads of Interpol. In the document they argue the reasons behind the penal prosecution of bankers.

Representatives of the vengeful public are demanding at least, “equal conditions, that both sides be heard, as under these circumstances mechanisms of cooperation lose all efficiency, they aren’t useful for anything while the situation stays like this,” as one source linked to the investigations said.

Officer [Simancas] added, “In some cases the administrative commission [of Interpol] has asked our opinion but in other cases it hasn’t consulted us at all, they’ve made the decision on motu proprio.

Our source refused to comment on the content of the report that will be presented in France and its status, saying that, “the consequences of this are very high, there are a lot of connotations, when the attorney Luisa Ortega finishes it and makes it public it could definitively explain what the considerations were.”

The concern of the lawyers at the attorney general’s office increased when they found out that not only bankers have successfully blocked the international search, but characters such as Patricia Poleo, Allan Brewer Carias, Guillermo Zuloaga- father and son [translator: both have the same name and the father is wanted for irregular car dealings, and is also the owner of opposition news channel Globvision], can easily and peacefully move between various countries without fear of being apprehended.

Hence the legislator in the commission for foreign police in the national assembly, Carlos Escarra, said that, “one of the biggest problems affecting Venezuela is that international organisations like the UN and the OAS, the International Court of Human Rights, and other smaller organisations, not by extension but because of hierarchy, like Interpol, are at the service of bigger interests.”

He criticised that while, “we are attacked, they don’t collaborate with us in the way that they should with subscribers of international agreements. While the [Venezuelan] minister for justice and internal affairs coordinate deportations [of drug traffickers] to Colombia and other countries, requests for extraditions made by Venezuela aren’t attended to, as in the case of [confessed terrorist] Posada Carriles [who is currently in the United States and despite many requests, has not been extradited to Venezuela].

The legislator and constitutional lawyer [Escarra] urged authorities to unite forces, not just so that [Venezuela’s] sovereignty be respected, but also so that international treaties are complied with. On that basis, he celebrated the efforts made by the justice and internal affairs and foreign affairs ministers.

Translator’s note: Panorama is a private newspaper in Venezuela- based in Zulia state but distributed nationally.. It is worth noting that the Venezuelan government and legal representatives have stated on numerous occasions that the warrants for the bankers is not political, but specifically based on the financial crimes mentioned in the above article. Nevertheless, opposition forces have tried to portray the arrests as a form of political persecution as a way of supporting their propaganda that the Venezuelan government is “repressive”.

Translated by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com

Published on Feb 21st 2011 at 5.20pm

Source: Panorama