Last week the Federal government announced sanctions against a Colombian national they say constructed a significant corruption network that has enabled disputed Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to make tremendous profits from food import and distribution in his country.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the 47-year-old man for allegedly benefiting from overvalued contracts made in connection with state programs including Local Committees for Supply and Production, or Los Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción (CLAP). Additionally, OFAC says he is involved with large-scale money laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars in corruption proceeds through an intricate web of shell companies, business partners, and family members.
OFAC alleges that the man began using kickbacks and bribes to obtain overvalued contracts over a decade ago. The first alleged instance involves the creation of a firm through which he and a partner bid for and received a contract for building low-income homes for four times more than their actual value.
President Maduro established CLAP in 2016, ostensibly to feed the country’s starving population. However, OFAC says the program is simply a tool for rewarding friends and punishing opponents of the president and his administration, and that the Colombian man was awarded a contract through CLAP that allowed him to ship food into the country under very lucrative terms. Ultimately a small fraction of the contracted-for food was delivered, but he and his partner allegedly walked away from the contract with hundreds of millions of dollars.
In addition to the Colombian man, 9 individuals and 13 businesses were designated by OFAC for allegedly participating in the scheme.
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