November 28, 2021

Lakeview Gazette

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A leading ally of Alex Chap’s ally Maduro has revealed that he met with US federal agents before being arrested.

File image. Alex Chop is featured in the Maxot file available to Reuters on October 17, 2021. Distributed by Broward County Sheriff’s Office / REUTERS

A businessman accused of diverting millions in Venezuelan government contracts secretly met with U.S. law enforcement officials to provide intelligence against the government of Nicolas Maduro before he was indicted in 2019., According to new documents related to the case against the infamous professor of the University of Miami.

Bruce Buckley, Before he was arrested in 2019 The best expert on organized crime in Latin America, Will be sentenced next week in federal court in Manhattan on two counts of embezzlement involving nearly $ 3 million in money he received from the businessman. Alex Chop.

In a tender request, Bagley’s lawyer argued that the money he sent to his client’s bank account of an unidentified intermediary was allegedly covering up payments from lawyers in the United States who came with him. Asked and told Provided intelligence information about the Venezuelan government from law enforcement officials.

“There is no contradiction”Attorney Peter Guijano wrote in a 27-page sentencing note filed Wednesday. Saab and the broker developed this “wire transfer system to hide Saab’s payments from US lawyers from prying eyes in Venezuela.”

Saab was deported to the United States from Cape Verde last month After a fierce legal battle that strained relations between Washington and Caracas.

The United States has described Saab as the main route to corruption in Venezuela, When millions of people in the South American nation were starving, one of the most profitable people from dubious contracts imported food. The Maduro government considers him a diplomat who was “hastily” abducted by US sanctions while on humanitarian duty.

In this September 9, 2021 file image, pedestrians walk near the call for independence of Alex Chap, a Colombian businessman in Caracas and Venezuela's special envoy (AP / Ariana Cubillos, file)
In this September 9, 2021 file photo, Colombian businessman in Caracas and Venezuelan special envoy Alex Chap walks by pedestrians near the call for freedom (AP / Ariana Cubillos, file)

It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post, It has not been reported before, nor has Saab provided any meaningful assistance or used the opportunity to obtain information about the U.S. investigation into its own actions.

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But Bagley’s explanation relates to the accounts of three people he knew well during the Saab investigation. Visited US Federal Police on several occasions in Colombia and Europe, including drug enforcement agencies Before being charged in 2019. All three spoke Associated Press While anonymous to discuss meetings.

EEII lawyers and investigators often meet criminal suspects outside the United States as they search. List them to help against a larger goal in exchange for the possibilities of secrecy and tenderness.

But any meeting Saab attended would have posed great risks to Colombian-born entrepreneurs. Close ties with Venezuela’s ruling elite, including Maduro’s own family.

Federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Saab in 2019 Money laundering related to alleged bribery scheme The one who pockets more than US $ 350 million Low-income housing program for the Venezuelan government.

Also, Saab was allowed by the previous Trump administration to claim to have used it Shell Enterprise Network They cover the world – up to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Hong Kong, Panama, Colombia and Mexico Hide huge profits from more expensive foods And without tender. Kickbacks and contracts obtained through kickbacks. Several of his associates, including a former business partner and former pro-government governor, were accused of allegedly participating in the scheme last month.

Some of them SAP contracts were obtained by bribing adult children Venezuela’s first lady Celia fluoresceinThe Trump administration blamed it when it announced the sanctions. The slang for “children”, commonly known as “Los Samos” in Venezuela, is that three, Flores’ children from a previous relationship, have been interrogated by lawyers in Miami for years.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (c) waves the national flag as Hector Rodriguez (left to right), Governor of Miranda, takes over;  Diostato Cabello, chairman of the National Constituent Assembly;  Celia Flores, first lady;  Mayor Erica Farias and Vice President of Economics Tarek L. Issam (Edelson Games / Getty Images)
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) waves the national flag as hector Hector Rodriguez (from left to right) takes over Miranda; Diostato Cabello, chairman of the National Constituent Assembly; Celia Flores, first lady; Mayor Erica Farias and Vice President of Economics Tarek L. Issam (Edelson Games / Getty Images)

Chap’s attorney, Henry Bell, and the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami, which is in charge of Chap’s investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Buckley paper Chapin seems to have had a corrupt network Relatively small.

Saab initially hired Bagley to help his son get a student visa He then sought his advice on investments in Guatemala, according to lawyers. Then, from November 2017, Bagley began to receive a monthly deposit of about $ 200,000 From a food company based in the United Arab Emirates. Additional funds were transferred from the account in Switzerland.

He then transferred 90% of the money to accounts controlled by an informant in the hope that Chapin would send it to U.S. prosecutors.. But Bagley had a 10% commission and continued to accept money even after one of his accounts was closed for suspicious activity. In total, he received nearly $ 3 million, according to prosecutors.

Name of Informant It was removed from the sentence note on Wednesday. But to plead guilty in court last year, Buckley identified him as George Luis Hernandez, A long-standing American information Anti-drug cases from his native Colombia, Well known by his nickname It hurts. He has also served as a broker linking drug traffickers with U.S. defense attorneys.

Bagley, Colombia’s criminal underworld expert, Hernandez testified in his favor when he applied for asylum in the United States He argued that he would be killed if deported to Colombia, where he had contact with right-wing paramilitary groups that dominated drug trafficking on the Caribbean coast.

Over the years, Hernandez Bagley proposed lucrative business plans to provide consulting services to leading Latin American politicians.Including the Colombian governor, Kiko Gomes, Contacts with far-right militants and is an anonymous presidential candidate from Paraguay.

Bruce Bagley, a former professor at the University of Miami and an organized criminal expert
Bruce Bagley, a former professor at the University of Miami and an organized criminal expert

On one occasion in 2019, Bagley flew to New York to meet Luis Dominguez Trujillo, President of the Dominican Republic and grandson of a former dictator of the Caribbean, Rafael Trujillo. Unbeknownst to Bagley at the time, the meeting was monitored under the guidance of New York attorneys.

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“But Dr. Buckley, not provoked by the large amount of money, apparently turned down the (fake) job offer to work for a shadowy politician, thus defeating the particular attempt (fake) to offer a defendant.Guizano wrote.

Finally when Bagley Obeying Hernandez’s request, he thought it was to save the sap from possible revenge.If powerful officials in Venezuela believe he is cooperating with the United States, the prosecutor said.

“The United States does not care about these payments, but Venezuela’s individuals and government will find them.”Guijano wrote. “Considering his close relationship with some government officials in Venezuela, Saab acknowledged that their financial dealings would make many important people tense. For the same reason, Saab was unable to pay his lawyers directly in the United States.

However, lawyers adhere to it Bagley knew that those funds were the product of corruption and that “government funds were finally taken from some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.”

“Yes, it’s corruption ‚ÄúProfessor Hernandez said in a recorded conversation from the December 2018 meeting that he knew that Chab was deeply involved in food imports on behalf of the Maduro government. “They have imported the worst quality goods at inflated prices and filled their pockets with money.”

That lawyers argue Bagley, Law enforcement reports, You have not yet shown real remorse or fully acknowledged your role in the serious crime. However, they urge Judge Jet Rock to impose an easier sentence of 46 to 57 months, as Bagley’s age (he is 75) and his health is deteriorating.

(Por Joshua Goodman, AP)

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