Skip to comments.Venezuelan government denies link to cash-filled suitcase scandal
Posted on 08/10/2007 10:36:12 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
CARACAS, Venezuela The Venezuelan government on Friday denied any link to a businessman who was stopped at an Argentine airport carrying a suitcase filled with nearly $800,000 in cash.
The Venezuelan businessman, Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, carried the money from Caracas to Buenos Aires on a flight chartered by the Argentine government, and the undeclared funds were seized by customs agents last weekend.
We don't have anything to do with that plane or with that trip ... nothing to do with that businessman, Venezuelan Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas told reporters.
The incident has shaken the Argentine government, prompted one Argentine official to resign and led Venezuelan authorities to launch investigations. Officials so far have given no explanation as to why Antonini Wilson might have had the cash or what sort of business he is in.
Antonini Wilson was accompanied on the flight last Saturday by Argentine officials and three employees of Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, also president of PDVSA, said the company will investigate adding to a probe already begun by Venezuela's customs agency.
It's an irregular situation and it's being evaluated, Ramirez said. He also criticized media reports suggesting links between the money and PDVSA, calling them a public lynching of our institution without proof.
Antonini Wilson was accompanied on the flight early Saturday by Argentine officials and three PDVSA employees.
The scandal over the suitcase full of cash was the latest to rattle Argentine President Nestor Kirchner's government in an election year. His wife, Sen. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is the front-running candidate to succeed him in the Oct. 28 vote.
Antonini Wilson, meanwhile, told the Argentine daily La Nacion he is eager to set the record straight.
I'm very interested in this, in explaining all of this, he was quoted as saying. He spoke by phone Thursday to a reporter who sought to interview him at his Miami condominium complex, saying he was speaking by cell phone from Argentina where he was meeting with his lawyers.
Asked about the origin of the cash, he declined further comment.
Associated Press writer Bill Cormier in Buenos Aires, Argentina contributed to this report.
meanwhile Hugo is buying the support of South American countries by offering to build refinieries and such...
Venezuelan Probed for Suitcase of Cash
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina Argentine authorities said Wednesday they were investigating why a Venezuelan man was carrying $800,000 in undeclared cash aboard an executive jet charted by Argentina’s state energy company.
Venezuelan businessman Antonini Wilson was detained early Saturday by customs authorities at a Buenos Aires airport after they found the cash in one of his suitcases.
Wilson arrived from Caracas aboard the chartered jet with officials from Energia Argentina SA, or ENARSA, which paid for the flight, and Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
ENARSA issued a statement Wednesday saying it rented the plane to ferry the company officials between the two capitals as they worked out the details of a liquid natural gas supply agreement.
On Monday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Venezuela would invest in a regasification plant for liquid natural gas for Argentina, which is weathering an energy crisis. Chavez was in Argentina as part of a regional tour.
The Venezuelan president later denied Argentine media reports that Wilson was part of his delegation.
Argentine authorities said they were investigating whether Wilson committed a simple customs violation for not declaring the cash or if some other crime may have been committed.
Scandal Erupts Over Cash-Stuffed Case
Thursday August 9
By Bill Cormier, Associated Press Writer
Scandal Over Cash-Stuffed Suitcase Creates Uproar in Argentina, Venezuela
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — An Argentine official resigned Thursday after a Venezuelan businessman was found carrying about $800,000 in undeclared cash on a government-chartered flight, the latest scandal to rock President Nestor Kirchner’s administration.
Claudio Uberti, who ran a regulatory body for Argentine toll roads, was asked to resign after he let the businessman join an official Argentine delegation on the flight chartered by state energy company Energia Argentina, Planning Minister Julio De Vido said. Uberti agreed to step down.
Argentine authorities say Venezuelan businessman Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson was stopped early Saturday by customs authorities at a Buenos Aires airport after they found $790,555 in one of his suitcases.
Officials so far have given no explanation of why Antonini Wilson might have had the cash or what sort of business he is in.
The discovery also created political waves in Venezuela, where the head of the tax and customs agency, Seniat, said it had opened an investigation.
Jose Vielma Mora said Venezuelan law prohibits carrying more than $10,000 in cash and such a sum should have been declared upon leaving. He said the Venezuelans aboard the chartered flight were not part of President Hugo Chavez’s entourage during a recent visit to Argentina.
Local reports said Antonini Wilson wasn’t detained and left Argentina on Monday. His whereabouts remained uncertain.
In Venezuela, public voter records show Antonini Wilson is registered to vote at the Venezuelan consulate in Miami, suggesting he lives there.
The discovery of the cash-filled suitcase and subsequent resignation of Uberti marked the latest in a series of corruption scandals beleaguering Argentina’s center-left government.
Last month, Kirchner’s economy minister, Felisa Miceli, was fired after $61,000 in Argentine and U.S. currency was found in a brown bag in her office bathroom. Officials from a gas regulatory agency and the public works ministry resigned earlier amid a bribery scandal.
On Thursday, Kirchner defended his administration, vowing to get to the bottom of events.
“I don’t cover anything up. When something happens, the people find out as they should find out and we take the corresponding measures,” he said.
Sen. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is the front-runner to succeed her husband in the Oct. 28 presidential election.
Chavez offers Equador refinery help
JEANNETH VALDIVIESO, Associated Press
Thu Aug 9, 8:17 PM ET
QUITO, Ecuador - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered Thursday to help Ecuador build a $5 billion oil refinery, as the socialist leader pledged to spread his government’s oil wealth to another South American ally.
Chavez is on a four-country regional tour, seeking to expand his nation’s influence by leveraging its vast oil reserves and create a “grand South American alliance” to counter U.S. dominance.
The Venezuelan leader arrived in Ecuador after stops in Argentina and Uruguay. In Buenos Aires, he announced plans to buy up to $1 billion in Argentine bonds, while in Uruguay he discussed ways to expand its lone oil refinery and guarantee access to Venezuelan oil and gas. His next stop is Bolivia, where his ally Evo Morales is president.
On Thursday, Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa signed an agreement for construction of a giant oil refinery on Ecuador’s Pacific coast expected to cost nearly $5 billion.
Chavez stressed the importance of energy integration in South America and remarked in a news conference on the difference between his efforts and “the savage hand of imperialism” in Iraq, referring to the United States.
The United States is like “Count Dracula,” he said. “It wants to suck (the blood) of the world.”
Correa, an admirer of Chavez, said the Venezuelan leader was acting out of solidarity with countries in the region and had no interest in earning a profit from the cooperation.
“Venezuela is the one that is pushing hardest for energy integration and it is one that least needs it,” Correa said.
Chavez and Correa signed an agreement to begin technical studies on the refinery, which would process 300,000 barrels of oil a day. The agreement contemplates the possibility of adding a petrochemical plant at an estimated cost of $10 billion.
The leaders did not say how much each country would contribute to the project, noting that it would depend on the feasibility studies. They said construction of the refinery, to be located in the Pacific port of Manta, would begin next year and take four to five years to finish.
Ecuador currently produces 535,000 barrels a day of oil. But with limited refining capacity, it must export crude oil and import fuels at much greater cost to cover its needs.
Chavez has also spoken of $500 million in as-yet-unspecified financing for Ecuador, probably by purchasing Ecuadorean bonds.
Although Chavez is a popular figure in Ecuador, some are concerned about Ecuador’s close relations with Venezuela.
“It would be tragic and dangerous if we went from a supposed dependency on the United States to being dependent on Venezuela,” investment analyst Ramiro Crespo said.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Nice updating Norm.
I appreciate it.
My pleasure, this isn’t getting much play.. and why should it, right?
After all, South America is as ensnarled in corruption as it ever was. Nothing really new, eh? ;-)
His words ring hollow.
Well it sure interested me...never taking my eye off the ball.
Thanks again, Norm.
Just goes to show you what happens when you trust a Venezuelan businessman with the somewhat improbable name, “Guido Wilson.”
BTTT. Very interesting.
The incident has shaken the Argentine government, prompted one Argentine official to resign and led Venezuelan authorities to launch investigations. Officials so far have given no explanation as to why Antonini Wilson had the cash or what sort of business he is in.
Corporate records in the United States list Alejandro Antonini, apparently the same man, as an executive of the Florida-based companies Techmilk, Venuz Supply, Global Ads and Foxdelta Investments.
Antonini Wilson owns a three-bedroom condominium in Key Biscayne that has a market value of about $1 million, according to Miami-Dade County records. Venezuelan public records show he is registered to vote at the Venezuelan consulate in Miami.
------ "Argentina wants to arrest Venezuelan businessman," BY OSCAR SERRAT, Associated Press via http://www.miamiherald.com/519/story/203639.html
Follow the money...
Thanks piasa for that update.
What a name...
Throughout 2003 Antonini increased his portfolio with the creation of Global Ads Corp in Florida, and the founding, with Wladimir Abad ( a Venezuelan pilot who this week told Miami's Union Radio 1210 that he registered corporations but wasn't active in their management) of Techmilk in August of that year. ( from Buenos Aires News: Wladimir Abad, owns Abad Air, which has made frequent flights between Venezuela, Miami, and the Turks and Caicos, a Caribbean money laundering haven. Abad, like Antonini, seems to be fascinated with the ease of starting a US company and has set up at least a dozen, none of which seem to have an address or employees...Antonini Wilson is part of a group of 35 - 45 year-old "businessmen" who have gotten rich under Chavez, and all hang out together.
One of them is Ricardo Fernandez Barruecos, owner of American Food Grains; Wladimir Abad is the company secretary. One of AFG's planes was detained by the US DEA May 17 of this year. There are several members of the group, all rolling in dough, and all connected to PDVSA and Chavez. Abad, a big Chavista, drove around Caracas during the run-up to the recall campaign with a big red "NO!" sticker on his brand-new Ferrari, indicating his support for Chavez *) "He seems like a totally legit businessman to me.I'm in shock", Abad said, referring to Antonini in an interview with journalist Julio César Camacho.
-------- via "A Mule For Brother Hugo," Tuesday, August 21, 2007 , see Little Venice, Microvenice.blogspot.com
Fascinating piasa...like a spider web unwinding.
Wladimir Abad, who is the secretary in Antonini's Florida company, Foxdelta Investments Inc., (the address is Antonini's Mashta Island, Key Biscayne home) is also the secretary of a Delaware company, American Food Grain, Inc. (AFG). A private jet owned by AFG, N700SA, was seized recently in Florida by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Abad is also the Vice President of Antonini company Techmilk, Inc.--- "Was the $800,000 the tip of the iceberg? ," Kenneth Rijok, in "From a Different Angle" Worldcheck.com, 13 August 2007 http://www.world-check.com/articles/2007/08/13/was-800000-tip-iceberg/ (/schnipp)
The principal officer at AFG is Ricardo Fernandez Barrueco [UID 404048], head of Venezuelan agribusiness giant Proarepa (it owns 27 companies), and reported to be the front man for Chavez family holdings. He is reputed to be the only businessman who has 24-hour access to the President.
Another Proarepa principal is Sarkis Arslanian Beyloune [UID 404049] , a Venezuelan of Syrian descent who was deported from the US, and had his visa cancelled, reportedly for suspicion of narcotics trafficking and money laundering.
The president of Antonini's company Foxdelta Investments Inc. is Franklin Duran who, with Carlos Kaufman [UID 239412] , control Venoco, one of the principal players in the government-controlled Venezuelan petroleum industry. The beneficial owners of Venoco have never been identified. These gentlemen are reported to be financial supporters of the Venezuelan government, and are socially involved with Antonini in racing Ferraris internationally, including the unsanctioned Gumball Rally. Antonini's business card lists him as Vice President/Advisor at Venoco, with his Miami cellular telephone number and a Venoco e-mail address. Exactly what does he do for Venoco?...
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