Venezuela Probes Foreign Bank Accounts Amid Corruption Allegations

The Venezuelan public prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday it would probe Venezuelan holdings in offshore accounts, as part of a continued defense effort in the face of United States threats.

By Lucas Koerner

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Venezuelan chief public prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz (Photo: AVN)
Venezuelan chief public prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz (Photo: AVN)
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Caracas, March 25, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan public prosecutor’s office announced on Tuesday it would probe Venezuelan holdings in offshore accounts, as part of a continued defense effort in the face of United States threats.

Chief Prosecutor Luisa Ortega Díaz indicated that the Public Ministry would investigate in coordination with foreign governments a series of bank accounts containing large sums held by Venezuelans abroad in order to determine their legality.

The move comes on the heels of the approval of a new “anti-imperialist” enabling law by a 60% parliamentary majority last week, which vested President Nicolas Maduro with authority to enact legislation in the area of national defense, including international financial holdings as a strategic priority.

In recent weeks, a spate of rumors and accusations have surfaced in the private media alleging that Venezuelan government officials and ex-officials were laundering funds from the state oil company in foreign bank accounts in Andorra and Switzerland.

In his executive order branding Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” earlier this month, President Obama accused Venezuelan officials of corruption, alleging the existence of U.S. bank accounts belonging to Bolivarian functionaries, though no examples were provided.

Last week, Venezuelan opposition parliamentarians issued a request to the public prosecutor to investigate Venezuelan bank accounts in Andorra and Spain holding an alleged USD $4 million.

However, the chief prosecutor has dismissed suggestions that Tuesday’s probe comes in response to allegations by the opposition and U.S. government.

Rather, the decision, insists Díaz, represents a continuation of previous investigations into offshore accounts and reflects a longstanding commitment to defending national sovereignty against international financial crimes.

“We are investigating this [case] not in response to accusations by the opposition, but rather because the Public Ministry was already doing it before,” Diaz said.

The Public Ministry has yet to release further details regarding the targets of the probe.

The National Assembly also approved on Tuesday a proposal for the launch of its own probe into foreign holdings.

The announcement comes in the wake of calls by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello for extensive investigations into foreign accounts as part of President Maduro’s initiatives to safeguard national sovereignty.

“Whoever has cash, any state functionary, or anyone linked to the state, who has capital in the United States, may they have the courage to justify it, because if they don’t, they are committing criminal offenses with public money,” affirmed Cabello, responding to the allegations of corruption issued by the Obama administration.