Archive for February 21st, 2009

Some parting shots on Chavez, Venezuela and Stanford

February 21, 2009

Monday and Tuesday are holidays in Venezuela, so tomorrow I will be disappearing for a week and blogging will be lighter than usual, but I am sure I will manage to post something given the barrage of news around. I am going to a Caribbean beach (not Antigua) where I will try to relax and forget about the world for a few days, if possible.

But there are some loose ends I wanted to tie before going, none of which make a single post but they are all somewhat related.

First of all, not a week has gone by after Chavez’ referendum win and his tune has already changed from the country being shielded from the world financial crisis, to we are facing a “tough and difficult” situation. That did not take very long, no? By next week I can imagine it will all be the Empire’s fault.

And meanwhile, Chavez’ Government, after intervening the local Stanford Bank today, issued an order prohibiting the Board of Directors of the bank from leaving the country. Of course, this does not include the man responsible for building up the Stanford operation in Venezuela, Gonzalo Tirado, who told the Miami Herald in 2005 that 40% of the deposits at Stanford International Bank were from Venezuela. If this proportion was sustained since 2005, that implies Venezuelans had around US$ 3.4 billion at the Antigua bank. Note in the article Tirado takes credit for building up Stanford in Venezuela and says Allen Stanford, with whom he had a bitter dispute, managed everything directly.

Curiously, in the same Official Gazette in which the Government published the intervention of the local Stanford Bank on Thursday, the Government also published the approval for Tirado to go ahead and buy a local commercial bank by the name of Inverunion.

And while many have tried to portray Stanford International Bank as the bank of the Venezuelan oligarchy, as only the well to do had money there, I hear that the robolutionaries loved the institution, its high rates, as well as other features. You see, Stanford International used Canadian, not US banks, for its wire transfers and did not have the rigorous compliance procedures of US banks after the Patriots Act. Thus robolutionaries apparently were very faithful clients too. Which makes me wonder if this has anything to do with a report by a radio station in Antigua today that a Venezuelan jet carrying some Government officials, arrived in that island for a meeting with the Prime Minister. If they were after the money, they will find very little, if they were after the data, maybe (or hopefully) someone got there before them, after all, the WSJ last wekend already talked about FBI agents being in the small Caribbean island.

Enjoy the long Carnival holiday!