Thursday, December 9

The National High Court approves the extradition to the United States of the former security chief of Hugo Chávez




The Criminal Chamber of the National Court agreed yesterday to extradite Hugo Chávez’s former head of security to the United States, Adrián José Velásquez Figueroa, which is claimed by the North American authorities for belonging to a corruption scheme associated with the exchange of currencies (dollars) and money laundering together with his wife -the former national treasurer of Venezuela, Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, also known for being the former nurse of the former Venezuelan president- and Raúl Gorrín, owner of the Venezuelan news channel Globovisión.

In the extradition order, the magistrates of the Second Section state that the facts constitute, according to United States law, crimes of criminal association to commit money laundering and laundering of monetary instruments.

In Spanish legislation, these acts are sanctioned as money laundering crimes committed within a criminal organization, according to the Penal Code.

The order also explains the situation of Velázquez Figueroa as a result of obtaining Spanish nationality (DNI issued on April 20, 2021), which initially his defense hoped to use in his favor to try to stop his extradition to Florida. But the Chamber states that there is no record that Spanish nationality of the required “was acquired with the fraudulent purpose of making extradition impossible.” And that in any case, the Chamber has already ruled on previous occasions in the sense that “the optional clause of surrender prevails over the prohibition of surrender of nationals”, understanding that the Constitution does not contain a prohibition of surrender of nationals .

Meets all requirements

The National Court considers that in the case of Chávez’s former bodyguard, all the necessary requirements are met to approve the extradition, such as that the acts are a crime in both countries (double criminality) that are punished with more than one year in prison (minimum punitive ), as well as that they are not prescribed. The resolution is not firm and there is room for a plea appeal to be filed by Velázquez’s defense before the Plenary of the National High Court.

The Southern District Court of Florida claims Chávez’s former head of security for having participated from 2008 to 2017 in a corrupt plot in relation to foreign currency exchange, where the Chavista couple received “paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes” to carry out operations at “favorable rates” using the position held by his wife, which would have brought him benefits of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Gorrín would have authorized payments of bribes that would amount to at least about 65 million dollars, specifically details a transaction of $ 8.6 million from Swiss bank accounts to bank accounts in South Florida for the benefit of Díaz and Velázquez. In addition to the bribes Gorrín paid through wire transfers, he also bought and paid expenses related to private jets, yachts, mansions, horses, watches, and a fashion designer brand in the Southern District of Texas for the benefit of both.

The nurse bought 250 gold bars, each weighing one kilogram, and stored her fortune in a secret chamber through a shell company established on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, according to Liechtenstein court records obtained by the AP.

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