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A US jury found the former director of Hugo Chávez’s Treasury in Venezuela guilty of money laundering

Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillen, the former nurse to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (AP Photo/Paul White, File)
Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillen, the former nurse to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (AP Photo/Paul White, File)

The former nurse of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was found guilty Tuesday of money laundering in connection with paying bribes to a media mogul to approve lucrative currency transactions while serving as director of the National Treasury Office.

A South Florida jury deliberated just a few hours before convicting Claudia Diaz and her husband, Adrian Velasquez, of five of the six charges detailed in the indictment that accuses them of having accepted bribes of at least 4.2 million dollars.

The couple’s trial was seen as a crucial test of the federal prosecution’s ability to hold Venezuela’s so-called kleptocrats to account for fleecing the oil nation.

According to the indictment, the couple received payments from companies controlled by Raul Gorrin — a media mogul now on the run — on accounts in Miami that were allegedly used to finance the couple’s lavish life.

The government’s case rested largely on the testimony of one of Díaz’s predecessors in the Treasury Office: Alexander Andradewho declared from the podium that Díaz continued with the financial agreement that he had initially made with Gorrín.

Like Díaz, Andrade, a former presidential security agent, capitalized on his personal relationship with Chávez to rise in the Venezuelan military and politics, amassing an enormous fortune almost overnight.

Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, in police custody
Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, in police custody

He was released from prison in 2021 after serving less than half of a 10-year sentence for his part in a scheme to funnel millions of dollars from state coffers. As part of his plea bargain, he gave up more than $260 million in cash and assets, including a oceanfront mansion in Palm Beach, luxury vehicles, show horses, and several Rolex and Hublot watches.

The trial came as usually hostile relations between the United States and Venezuela begin to thaw after a period of “maximum pressure” during the president’s rule. donald trump to remove the president Nicolas Maduro.

More recently, the government of President Joe Biden eased oil sanctions against the South American OPEC nation, allowing the US company Chevron resume its production in Venezuela after more than three years to support the incipient negotiations between the government and the opposition.

But ongoing criminal investigations against members of the Venezuelan government remain under a microscope in South Florida, home to millions of Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans who fled leftist governments in their home countries.

(With information from AP)

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