Accountability from abroad for corruption of the Venezuelan State (Part I): Laundering of proceeds of public corruption before US courts

Jan-Michael Simon

Versión en español aquí.

In a notorious, internationally known context of widespread public corruption in Venezuela, the justice systems of foreign states are expected to respond effectively when their territory is used to launder money gained from corrupt practices in Venezuelan territory. In the first part of a series of blogs, the author analyzes two criminal cases in progress before the US courts (the Housing case and the Food for Venezuela case). The author concludes that, in the event of a conviction, the custodial sentences will probably be for long terms and the total amount of money involved in laundering will be confiscated. In a second part of the blog series, it will be analyzed how the Mexican courts have dealt with the ramification of the Food for Venezuela case in Mexican territory.

Introduction

A criminal proceeding against a self-proclaimed Venezuelan «anti-blockade agent» is currently underway before the U.S. justice system. This process represents another step in the search for accountability abroad for Venezuela state corruption. The individual’s image as a «Venezuelan ambassador, [who] has provided basic foodstuffs… to meet the needs of social welfare programs in Venezuela,» contrasts with legal actions in the U.S. brought against him and his associates.

U.S. authorities have charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit international money laundering and laundering of monetary instruments worth hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars. These would come from their transnational businesses, linked to acts of corruption by the Venezuelan State in investing in the welfare of its population, particularly public corruption related to the importation of basic foodstuffs.

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