Maletagate scandal hits the fan again as US charges four as acting illegaly as foreign agents on behalf of the Venezuelan Government

December 12, 2007

The US Department of Justice announced
that three Venezuelans and one Uruguayan were arrested yesterday on
charges of acting and conspiring to act as agents of the Venezuelan Government
without notifying the US Attorney General as required by law. A fifth person is
being sought in connection with the charges. They face up to ten years in
prison and up to US$ 250,000 in fines. The Venezuelans are Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez (at large), Moises Maionica , Franklin Duran and Carlos Kauffman. The Uruguayan is Rodolfo Edgardo Wanseele Paciello.
The charges relate the now infamous maletagate and Guido
Antonini; the case of the Venezuelan caught trying to go into Argentina with
US$ 800,000 in cash in a suitcase. According to the charges the money was to be
used for the campaign of an unnamed candidate, likely to be Mrs. Kirchner that
was sworn in yesterday.

The charges allege that the men participated in a conspiracy
acting as agents of the Venezuelan Government to get Antonini to hide as well
as not reveal the origin of the US$ 800,000 in cash. It also says that the defendants named
various high-ranking officials, including the Vice President Jorge Rodriguez
and members of both the intelligence police and the Ministry of Justice.
According to the details of the complaint filed in Florida Court against the five men:

—On August 17, 2007, Duran, Kauffman and Maionica entered the US. Six days later they met with Antonini where Duran advised Antonini that he had spoken to a high ranking member of the intelligence police (DISIP) and told him both the Venezuelan and Argentinean Government would pursue him if he did not say the US$ 800,000 belonged to him.At that meeting Kauffmann advised Antonini that his future course of action might put his life at risk. Maionica advised him that PDVSA would pay all his expenses and financial penalties relating to the case.

—On Aug 27, 2007, Mainioca, Duran and another individual met again with Antonini. At this meeting Duran warned Antonini that revealing the objective of the money may result in the loss of the election by the candidate and both Venezuela and Argentina wanted the “mess to be solved so that the truth would not come out”. At this meeting, Duran identified the person who brough on board the plane the US$ 800,000 as the assistant to the CEO of PDVSA (Rafael Ramirez)

—On Aug 29, 2007 Duran spoke with Antonini on the phone and asked for a power of attorney and told hyim the matter was being handled at the top of the Venezuelan Government.

—On Sept. 16, 2007 Mainioca spoke with Antonini and told him that his involvement in the case began with a three way call between the office of the Vice President of Venezuela, the DISP and Mainioca, at which he was assigned this mission.

—On Oct. 4th. 2007, Mainioca told Antonini that an emissary was being sent to him and he should personally tell the emissary what Antonini required to participate in the conspiracy. Later he gave him the code word for identification.

—On Oct. 28th.2007, Rodolfo Wanseele drove Antonio Jose Canchica to a meeting with Antonini at which the latter acknowledged the code word and told Antonini that he would be helped. Antonini was told he was the last link in the chain.

—On Nov. 6 2007, Mainioca advised Antonini that a man from DISIP named Arvelo would call him. On the same day Arvelo called Antonini and told him Antonini’s concerns were being addressed.

—On December 11, 2007 Mainioca, Duran and another individual met with Antonini and held discussions on how to create a false paper trail to conceal the true source of the US$ 800,000 in cash.

Clearly, Antonini was cooperating with the FBI throughout all of this.

Very interesting and damaging stuff indicating the levels of corruption in Venezuela, this goes all the way to the top as expected.

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