The former national treasurer of Venezuela Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen and her husband, Adrián José Velásquez Figueroa, were sentenced this Wednesday in USA to 15 years in prison and three years probation each on money laundering charges.
In addition, they must restitute $136 million and pay a fine of $75,000 each, Judge William P. Dimitrouleas announced in Miami.
The The Prosecutor’s Office had requested sentences of no less than 23 years and 5 months in jail for herand 19 years and five months for him.
Both Venezuelan citizens were extradited from Spain —country of which he also has nationality— in 2022 and in December of that same year they were found guilty of money laundering: she on two charges and the one on three.
Who was Claudia Diaz?
Díaz Guillén and Velásquez Figueroa were people trusted by Hugo Chavez: They are known as the nurse and bodyguard of the then president of Venezuela, who died in 2013. Both have been living in Spain since 2016, they allege, because they were persecuted by the current Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro.
What are Claudia Díaz and her husband accused of?
The Prosecutor accused them of having made a fortune of 136 million dollars with a corruption network that took advantage of the fact that she was national treasurer (2011-2013) to benefit from the exchange control system in force in Venezuela by then.
That is the amount that, according to Judge Dimitrouleas, they must repay, in addition to paying a $150,000 fine between the two.
In a document incorporated into the judicial record of the case, the former national treasurer of Venezuela asked the judge for “compassion” at the time of sentencing them and stressed that he would have liked to “collaborate” with USAbut that he could not do so because he lacked the information that was requested.
Diaz Guillen and her husband pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and did not reach an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, as did, on the contrary, another Venezuelan, former national treasurer and subject to US justice, Alejandro Andrade Cedeño, involved in the corruption and bribery plot than they.
Andrade Cedeño, who took up residence in the US after Chávez’s death, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018 as part of a deal that included $1 billion in asset forfeiture.
The main defendant in this case, the Venezuelan businessman Raúl Gorrín Belisario, owner and president of the channel Globovisiónis sought by the United States Justice in relation to the same facts.
Gorrín was indicted on August 16, 2017 in the Southern District of Florida with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)another for conspiracy to commit money laundering and nine more for money laundering.
The indictment alleges that Gorrín Belisario paid millions of dollars in bribes to two high-ranking Venezuelan officials—Díaz Guillén and Andrade Cedeño—to obtain the rights to carry out foreign exchange transactions at favorable rates.
In addition to making money transfers to the officials, Gorrín Belisario allegedly paid them expenses related to private jets, yachts, residences, championship horses, luxury watches, and a fashion line.
To hide bribes, Gorrín Belisario made payments through multiple shell companies and allegedly associated with others to acquire Banco Peravia in the Dominican Republic.
Gabriel Arturo Jiménez Aray, also a Venezuelan, ex-owner of the Banco Peravia in the Dominican Republicwas sentenced in the US to three years in prison in 2019 for conspiracy to launder money.