Eight cases, one same denunciation

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Saturday July 13, 2013  12:00 AM
EXCLUSIVE CONTRACTS.  Deputy of Bolivar state, Andrés Velásquez, submitted a denunciation to the Public Prosecutor Ministry concerning a monopoly of contracts awarded to a businessman known in the area as Yamal Mustafá, who has rendered services and conducted civil works for Francisco Rangel Gómez's Governorship through several companies. The supplies provided range from small baskets filled with food supply and bonus tickets for food granted to local employees. From Puerto Ordaz, Mustafá replies from the other side of the coin, claiming that he has rendered services and conducted civil works for Bolivar Governorship even when he, Andrés Velásquez, was in charge of it, and that he has always won contracts through public tendering. As a response, Mustafá announces he is to sue the parliamentarian of political party Radical Cause (Andrés Velazquez) for libel.

COMPANIES OWNED BY RELATIVES. Carlos González Piazza, son-in-law with Governor Francisco Rangel Gómez, features in several documents as manager of one of the companies that has been supplying Bolivar Governorship as some sort of supplier from Mexico. Deputy Andrés Velásquez asked the Public Prosecutor Ministry to entrust the National Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) with an investigation into the documents that link the contractor with the Governor's son-in law; and therefore, ascertaining if the regional Governor committed any offence like "influence peddling" and "contractor agreement" when hiring such firm. Meanwhile, Rangel Gómez has turned up his nose at the denunciation.

TRIANGULATION OF IMPORTS. Bolivar's regional Governorship imported 37 buses from Brazil through a middleman registered in Barbados in which Carlos González Piazza – son-in-law with Francisco Rangel Gómez - features once again. Some bills reveal that Rangel Gómez's governorship paid almost USD 2,500,000 back on October 2007 to company Logistic Trading Services LTD, which according to the documents filed with the General Attorney's Office, has links with the governor's son-in-law.

EXPRESS DEALS.  According to the complaints filed by Andrés Velásquez with the Public Prosecutor Ministry, the same company in Barbados that has links with Carlos González Piazza, son-in-law with Governor Francisco Rangel Gómez, was awarded other contracts in parallel with Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana. Besides selling buses to the state governorship, he billed 30,000 bikes amounting to more than USD 1,600,000 in the basic industries of Guayana. Rangel Gómez has not directly mentioned a word in regards to his son-in-law's case, but he has indeed spoken up in regards to the denunciations made against him. "For these situations, one has to turn to competent organizations and submit evidence to them, and then those organizations have to render a decision, but one must produce evidence in earnest."

ILLEGAL TRADING.  Several foreign companies, which buy metal bars in Guayana, have links with Governor Francisco Rangel Gómez. Andrés Velásquez asserts that likewise Guayana's son-in-law has sold products and rendered services to state-run public organizations, he has also made use of other firms registered abroad in order to purchase aluminum from state-run aluminum producer industry Venalum. Holding copies in his hands, Velázquez presents documents that link Carlos Rodrigo González Piazza, the husband of the state governor's daughter, with company Quimera Metals, which buys aluminum in Venezuela in order to take it to Mexico.

LIMITED QUOTA. In order to get to the core of the basic industries mafias, the opposition deputy indicates that it is necessary to investigate the very companies backed by Bolivar Governorship. It was Venezuela's President, Nicolás Maduro, the first one to speak about the mafias in basic industries of Guayana. Last June 12, he announced that he had ordered to prosecute the president of iron producer Ferrominera, Raddwan Sabbagh, for his involvement in a clan that would charge fees, preferential contracts, and quota of iron and other minerals to companies owned by friends.

INTERNAL MAFIAS.  In the southern area of Venezuela, metals smuggling has not ceased; and among the latest denunciations, Deputy Andrés Velásquez remembers that Luis Salvador Velásquez –who was introduced to Venezuela by the very Venezuelan Government as "The king of the rebars"- managed the finances of the electoral campaign that the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv) ran in the 2008 regional elections. The so-called "King of the rebars," who has just been released, was arrested by the Venezuelan Government while he managed Orinoco Iron and was in charge of Trading Directorship of Orinoco Steel and Iron Industry (Sidor). Then, he was accused of being the leader in a metals smuggling network that had set up a parallel market with the rebars that must be sold at regulated prices inside the country.

CLOSING SALES OF CARS.  Between December and January, Bolivar state Governorship sold off a fleet of 133 vehicles, which were immediately resold in prices that greatly surpassed the initial price even 18 times. As well as the other cases he has been formalizing, Velásquez asserts that an anonymous person left him pictures of the vehicles and copies of the documents at the National Assembly, at the offices of the parliament group of Bolivar. Since then, he asked the Public Prosecutor Ministry and the Parliament's Anti-Corruption Committee to investigate the case. "I do not care whom they sold them or who bought them afterwards; what really matters is that the Governor sold the state-owned goods with the support of the Legislative Assembly."

Translated by Adrián Valera Villani
The end of a cycle

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brazil on March 13 to demand the ouster of embattled President Dilma Rousseff, carrying banners expressing anger at bribery scandals and economic woes. A banner read "We don't want a new Venezuela in Brazil."