CLAUDIA DIAZ-GUILLEN, who went from being a Venezuelan Navy petty officer that treated an ailing Hugo Chavez for cancer, to being Venezuela's National Treasurer, has been convicted of money laundering by a jury in US District Court in South Florida. Only in an absolute dictatorship can a nurse who gains favor with a despot become a cabinet level government official, notwithstanding her total lack of qualifications. After Chavez' death, his successor, Nicolas Maduro removed Diaz from office.
Convicted of two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, Diaz, during her two year tenure in government, allegedly accepted $65m in bribes, to approve extremely favorable currency conversion transactions that allow only persons closely connected to the Venezuelan Government to earn extremely excessive US Dollar profits. This system, known as the PERMUTA (Barter), utilized a loophole in Venezuelan foreign exchange law to make regime insiders millionaires many times over. We have discussed its ramifications elsewhere on this blog, in prior articles.
The insider who allegedly benefitted from Diaz' corruption, and paid the bribes is current US fugitive and co-defendant RAUL GORRIN BELISARIO, known to be living in Venezuela, which will not extradite him. The Superseding Indictment also charges Gorrin with FCPA violations.
The defendant's husband, ADRIAN VAZQUEZ FIGUEROA, a onetime Chavez security staff member, was also convicted on the same charges. Sentencing will be in February 2023. Both defendants were extradited from Spain and remain in US custody.