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Island of Barbados Hides Treasure of Samark López

The Venezuelan businessman quietly established a complex corporate structure until last February the US Treasury Department accused him of being the "front man" of the Vice President of the Republic, Tareck El Aissami. The Paradise Papers leak now reveals that his business assets are broader than those initially blocked by the US authorities and that the island of Barbados was chosen to create a sort of holding that groups the companies with which he participated in the oil and food business, among others, and whereby he was awarded millionaire contracts with the Venezuelan government.

19/11/2017 15:55:08

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Paradise Papers

A check for 8 million 500 thousand bolivars, dated September 2010, is a milestone in the business career of Samark José López Bello. The payment —equal to 1.9 or 3.2 million dollars, based on the two official exchange rates existing at that time in Venezuela— allowed López Bello, with only 36 years of age, to assume the majority shareholding of Profit Corporation C.A., an engineering company founded in the 90s. A month earlier, Armando José Salazar Gibory and Marcos Rafael Cabello Bello had acquired it, two names that will accompany Samark López in several of the companies that he surreptitiously accumulated until the US Treasury Department proclaimed him the "front man" of Tareck El Aissami, vice president of the Republic.

It was in February when the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused him of "providing material assistance" and "financial support" to El Aissami, whom the administration of Donald Trump links to drug trafficking. US authorities sanctioned 13 assets in up to five jurisdictions: Venezuela, Panama, the British Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. "We have frozen assets, tens of millions of dollars in assets that will have a very big impact for El Aissami and his environment," summarized Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.