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Andorra charges Venezuelan ex-officials for money laundering

MADRID — Media in Andorra say 29 people, including former Venezuelan officials, have been charged with allegedly laundering gains from a kickbacks-for-contracts scheme that plundered $2 billion from PDVSA — the state oil company of Venezuela — between 2007 and 2012.

The Diari d’Andorra newspaper says an investigating court issued the indictments Thursday, wrapping up a five-year investigation into opaque deposits in the now defunct Banca Privada d’Andorra.

Among those accused are BPA officials; former Venezuelan vice ministers Nervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado; and Diego Salazar, the high-powered cousin of Rafael Ramirez, who ran PDVSA from 2004 to 2013 and was a close aide of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

The judge says the group received illegal payments from companies that were rewarded with contracts from PDVSA. They hid the profits in shell companies and eventually in BPA accounts.