Accountability Abroad for Venezuelan State Corruption (Part III): The business scheme in the “Food for Venezuela” case, and the Mexican authorities’ response

Jan-Michael Simon

Versión en español aquí.

Part I of this series analyzed two ongoing criminal cases in the U.S. involving the laundering of proceeds of Venezuelan State corruption. One of them involves kickbacks in Venezuelan government purchases of food products exported from Mexico for a Venezuelan government social program (Food for Venezuela case).

Part II examined how Mexico’s justice system has handled the Food for Venezuela case in its own jurisdiction. Compared to the consequences of a conviction in the U.S., where severe penalties and the forfeiture of the full amount of money involved can be expected, the Mexican response of seeking to close the case by signing “reparatory agreements” (acuerdos reparatorios) is inconsequential and ignores basic rules of crime prevention and international standards on the fight against money laundering; it is also hardly compatible with inter-American standards on corruption and human rights.

The third part of this series examines the business scheme in the Food for Venezuela case and the quality of the Mexican authorities’ response to the illicit nature of this scheme. The author concludes, based on the available evidence, that the business scheme would aim at disguising the financial source of the kickbacks through a clandestine form of compensation calculation. The calculation would absorb the amounts reduced by overpriced business transactions, in transactions at very low prices with substandard products of the same and/or similar category.

It is concluded that the Mexican authorities did neither establish nor disclose the illicit nature of the business scheme. This begs the question about the factual and legal reasoning that would make the case eligible for reparatory agreements. This includes questions as to who would be entitled to reparation and authorized to enter into reparation agreements.

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