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Pancho Pardo: The Peruvian Banker who triangulates Bolivarian Passports

Far from Cuba, the Venezuelan identity documents were actually designed in Germany. Havana’s intermediation has only left a trail of transfers and commissions that transited at least four countries. For years, there was a surreptitious key character in this operation. But his secret was not kept under lock and key, and is about to be revealed in this report.

4/3/2016 12:00:00 AM

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Clinging to his equity, Peruvian banker Francisco Pardo is remembered in Lima for having hidden - with a mattress and everything - in his office of Banco Mercantil, which no longer exists in Peru. "There is no negotiation with nationalization," he declared in 1987 against the decree that President Alan García had issued to nationalize the bank. Who would say that the same person who 30 years ago broke spears and tended mattresses in Peru for private property, is now behind a network of companies that allowed Fidel Castro's Cuba to provide the passports of Hugo Chavez's Venezuela?

Francisco Javier Pardo Mesones, or "Pancho", as he is also called, chaired the Association of Banks of Peru in the 80s, and in the following decade, he was in the Congress of the Republic, first as parliamentarian of the party of the former secretary of the United Nations, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, and then, on the other side of the floor, in the ranks of Alberto Fujimori.

It was precisely in the offices of Mossack Fonseca where they always took care to keep under lock and key the intricacies of this operation. Even Pardo Mesones’ résumé remained there, where it is evident that already in the 70s he was no alien to Venezuela, where he started a career in the insurance market leading the Association of Insurers of Venezuela, La Unión Compañía de Seguros (insurance company) and the local office of American International Underwriters.

The Panamanian law firm also kept a copy of his passport. Despite all these evidences, Pardo Mesones categorically denied his participation in this story. "I do not know what you are talking about," he answered this week by phone in Lima. "I cannot meet with you because I do not know what you are talking about. I am a 78-year-old man, I am retired and I do not want to know anything about the Prosecutor's Office or strange things."