A criminal complaint filed in the courts of Miami has connected embattled Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and his three stepsons to an international money laundering scheme that saw over $1 billion stolen from the Venezuelan government-owned oil company PDVSA between 2014 and 2015.
He is now under investigation by a US probe as part of Operation Money Flight.
Court documents allege that an international network of businessmen, government officials, and a well-known international money launderer known as “Chente” used an unnamed Maltese private investment firm to launder at least €511 million through the island.
The Maltese company were given €20 million in exchange for this service, 4% of the total €511 million sum they allegedly laundered.
Although neither Maduro or his family are named in the court documents, with the accused only being referred to as “Venezuelan Official 2”, it is being widely reported that it is Maduro himself.
The unnamed Maltese company allegedly laundered €511 in Venezuelan funds
The Maltese company mentioned in the court documents remained unnamed, only referred to as “European Financial Institution 1”. Maltese authorities have already pledged to provide assistance in the probe, along with Italian, Spanish, and British authorities.
The unnamed Maltese company was used specifically to move funds from PDVSA to the accused’s accounts around the world. One email included in the criminal complaint refers to an email titled “Operation 600k” that featured details and specific work sheets about the money laundering operations between Venezuela and Malta.
One work sheet, called “Detailed Income from PDVSA” even listed a total of 10 transfers happening between 29th December, 2014, and 3rd February, 2015, between the two countries, with over €511 sent to Malta in that time period alone.
A screenshot of the criminal complaint referring to the allegedly Maltese company
“Everything runs through him”
Sources familiar with the case described a situation in Venezuela where the Maduro family plundered through national oil stocks and funnelled huge amounts of money through US and European banks in Malta and Austria. The Maduro family allegedly also used other assets, such as real estate in South Florida.
One person familiar with the case said that Maduro is the principal suspect in the probe, saying: “Everything runs through him”. And his three stepsons – Yosser Gavidia Flores, Walter Gavidia Flores and Yoswal Gavidia Flores – who are referred to as los chamos – ‘the stepsons’ in Spanish – are alleged to have gained €160 million in funds personally, funds that were pilfered from the PDVSA through the manipulation of foreign exchange rates.
The money was then allegedly laundered through the Maltese company between late 2014 and early 2015, around the time the entire conspiracy began. In all, eight people have been named and accused, along with over 10 unnamed people.
Maduro has overseen a catastrophic economic downturn in Venezuela, with severe food shortages leading to mass migration out of the country, and people even using the massively devalued money to create art sculptures in hopes of selling them to tourists.
He was recently the target of an alleged “terrorist” drone strike during a military parade on the 4th of August. A video of the attack appears to show a drone carrying explosives, before detonating in the air above the crowd, causing dozens of assembled soldiers to flee the parade.