Malpica Flores maintained corruption scheme attributed to Ramírez

Carlos Erik Malpica Flores, known as the favorite nephew of the wife of the ruler Nicolás Maduro, Cilia Flores, participated in the operation that extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the state-owned PDVSA and is at the center of one of the most notorious cases of Venezuelan corruption investigated in South Florida, according to documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald.

The documents show that Malpica Flores authorized the scheme of loans in bolivars payable in dollars that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to Venezuelan officials and their associates, who are accused in the Federal Court of South Florida of trying to launder up to $1,200 million obtained illegitimate.

Curiously, the operations are being investigated by the regime’s own prosecutor’s office, the body that filed charges against the former Petroleum Czar, Rafael Ramírez, who is considered an enemy of the regime after having been removed by Maduro.

But instead of stopping them, Malpica Flores continued operations when he was treasurer of the state company after Ramírez left PDVSA in September 2014.

In a document signed in April 2015, Malpica Flores certifies the approval of the establishment of a line of credit in which PDVSA would receive 7.2 billion bolívares from the Rantor company, a credit that was later paid in foreign currency.

The loan in bolivars had to be paid in foreign currency based on the official exchange rate of 6.30 bolivars per dollar, well below the floating exchange rate of 186 bolivars with which the US currency was bought on the street by the vast majority of Venezuelans at that time.

The gap between the official exchange rate and the parallel market exchange rate of 186 bolívares meant that the cost in dollars of a loan of 7.2 billion bolívares was actually $38.7 million and not the $1,142.85 million that PDVSA had agreed to pay in the contract he signed with Rantor Capital, documents obtained by el Nuevo Herald show.

“This was not really a loan, this was a gift,” said Venezuelan lawyer and financial expert Juan Ignacio Riquezes. “This is what they call in the United States a sham transactiona fictitious transaction”.

At the time, the lenders only had to sell $40 million to Venezuelan companies, hungry for US currency to be able to import products, in order to get the $1.2 billion in a matter of a couple of days, experts explained.

Riquezes, who analyzed the documents at the request of el Nuevo Herald, said that the characteristics of the operation reveal its fraudulent nature.

The sequence of the dates that appear in the contracts confirm that the operations begun when Ramírez was in charge of PDVSA continued after Flores Malpica assumed control of the company’s treasury.

Ramírez, who was one of the most important leaders of Chavismo during the years of the late President Hugo Chávez, was in charge of managing the country’s oil revenues and finances for years, but his influence was undermined by Maduro when Chávez died, and he ended up being removed from the regime and forced to leave the country.

The Maduro regime arrested former PDVSA finance vice president Victor Aular in late August, a day after accusing Ramírez of heading a mega-corruption network that embezzled nearly $5 billion from the state oil company.

Malpica Flores’ link to the corruption scheme has led Venezuelan leaders in South Florida to urge the Biden administration to re-include Cilia Flores’ nephew on the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned list. .

“We have asked the Treasury Department that Erik Malpica Flores be placed back on the sanctioned list,” said Jose Colina, president of the Organization of Politically Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile.

“We request it because there is information that he made decisions under the same corruption schemes for which Rafael Ramírez is accused and in which the same elements that continue to be investigated and prosecuted by the United States are involved,” he said.

The administration had removed him from the sanctions list earlier this year in a good faith gesture seeking to establish a line of dialogue with the Caracas regime.

This story was originally published on October 17, 2022 3:07 p.m.

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Award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience, specializing in the coverage of Venezuelan issues. Lover of history and literature.

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