But the truth is Márquez is added to the
case as a result of what could only be seen as a true labor of selection and
recruitment of talent.
At the beginning of 2014, the circumstance
in which the Espirito Santo group found itself was desperate. The large gap in
the balance kept widening and the Venezuelan manna was coming in short supply.
And not only that: under the pressure of its own insolvency and the European and
Portuguese regulators, the BES had undertaken some initiatives to restructure
that, paradoxically, sounded the first alarm bell for the debt owners in
Caracas. They didn’t like being exposed for the leniency with which they had
managed Venezuelan public funds, in case of a scandalous collapse of BES. So,
they demanded the bank reimburse some of the bonds that were reaching maturity
and replace the rest of its positions with papers from another of its
subsidiaries, only seemingly more solid.
Since Salgado didn’t have any money to
fulfill the first request coming from Venezuela, he arranged to take care of it
along with the second one through the issue of new debentures for the value of
almost 300 million dollars in the name of it’s subsidiary Rioforte del Espirito
Santo. But trying to do so he fell over an unexpected obstacle: the resistance
of his colleagues from the management of the subsidiary, who maintained that,
given the level of restricted liquidity of the company, weren’t in conditions to
generate further debt. They refused to approve the new commitment.
Then, Salgado developed a set up that should
be an essential part of the universal annals of corporate fraud. He instructed
the head of international business of the BES office in Madeira, Joao Alexandre
Silva, in charge of the Venezuelan agenda for a long time, to act as a headhunter and try to recruit an
impostor. The winner of the fraudster
casting was, of course, José Trinidad Márquez.
Since then and during the months of April
and May of 2014, by request of Salgado and Silva, the Caracas native Márquez
would be known as Domingo Galán
Macías, pretend boss of an inexistent Division of Engineering at Pdvsa.
Márquez – Galán assured people he was a Spanish citizen with a residence in
Caracas, owner of the DNI 70030366X (which in effect belongs to a doormen of a
certain building in Madrid, with the same name, who denounced the theft of his
identification document to the police authorities).
Márquez, now in character as Galán, told the
executives of Rioforte / Espirito Santo that he was an emissary of Rafael
Ramírez and he was baring a good news for them: Pdvsa was just about to announce
a tender for the management of an investment fund worth 3.5 billion dollars,
whose outcome could be manipulated in favor of BES. Furthermore: the provisions
of the fund would be designed in a manor that 20% of it, some 700 million
dollars, could be invested in the bank’s debt, a miraculous option which, in
translation, spelled salvation for the group. They would only have to pay a
commission for Márquez, in order to make this dream reality.