While the world’s attention is on the country of Venezuela and its political turmoil, countries have to decide which leader and course of action to support. The decisions are difficult and important and cannot be taken lightly. Back here in New York, there’s a Venezuelan problem too, but this one is a much more clear cut-and-dried problem.
United States prosecutors said that some of Venezuela’s rich “boligarchs” have been using Manhattan real estate to run a currency-exchange scam that’s worth almost $2.5 billion, The New York Post reports. The assets are now “subject to forfeiture,” which could return over $40 million-worth of value to the American taxpayers.
These developments are rising out of the bribery and money-laundering accusations swirling around a Venezuelan media mogul, Raul Gorrin. He maintains close relations with Nicholas Maduro, the democratically elected but highly controversial Venezuelan president who is not viewed as the legitimate president by a number of countries like the United States. The idea of a “boligarch” comes from the Russian oligarch notion in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a country primarily benefiting a few very wealthy people who are close to the president and tend to use corruption and state resources to acquire that wealth.
The scheme was spread across seven different properties, all of which boasted luxuries and amenities most people aren’t privileged enough to even know exist for the wealthiest of citizens. Expensive real estate is a convenient means for international criminals to attempt financial crimes, most commonly by dumping a ton of illegitimate money into real estate in order to launder it and reintroduce it into the system as “legitimate cash,” cash that had just been cleaned to obscure its illegal pathway.
Some of the properties that The New York Post flagged include a 47th-floor living space that had nearly 5,000 square feet of space and is across from the Museum of Modern Art. If such a prime property like that one doesn’t sound good enough, he also had a Billionaire’s Row property at 330 E. 57th St. They may seem like dream properties, but they were never intended for traditional living but rather an apparent currency-fixing scheme.
Another apartment — a full-floor home at 330 E. 57th St. — was purchased for $2.4 million in cash by a holding company controlled by Gorrin’s brother-in-law.
This scheme comes at a time when Venezuela is in turmoil, and the president said while addressing the nation last week “two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela, and its new interim president, Juan Guaido.”
The United States is joined by other Western powers like the United Kingdom in recognizing the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela Juan Guaido, while Turkey, Russia, China and many other states continued their support for the democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro.