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This Small K Entrepreneur became XL in Venezuela

Overbilling, up to three times the original value, in merchandise, freight and insurance; incomplete exports; disproportionate down payments; companies created ad hoc days before being awarded contracts; diversion of funds to accounts of tax havens. There is everything in the menu of tricks used by entrepreneur Juan José Levy to keep the lion's share in the contracts he signed to supply TV antennas, hygiene products and medicines from Argentina to Venezuelan. A look at the Argentine judicial investigation report reveals such a diversity of irregularities that it is difficult to understand why official companies Suvinca or Cantv chose him as a supplier, or maybe not.

5/14/2017 10:30:09 AM

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The doors of the Miraflores Palace have been insurmountable for many entrepreneurs during chavismo, always suspicious of the private initiative, though they have opened with ease to others. Until a few years ago, Argentine Juan José Levy stood out in the list of those chosen to trade business with the Government of Hugo Chávez, first, and with that of Nicolás Maduro, later. With just three small businesses, this man signed contracts with the Venezuelan government for almost 250 million dollars between 2010 and 2014 for the supply of personal hygiene products, set-top-boxes and television antennas, and even medicines. His streak seemed incomprehensible until last year, when an investigation by the Prosecutor's Office of Buenos Aires - initiated by quarrels between him and his brothers and partners - unveiled a web of dark financial operations and agreements unfavorable to Venezuela.

The background of this story dates back to 13 years and leads to the cooperation agreement signed at that time by Chávez and Néstor Kirchner, which later led to a bilateral trust. Thanks to this alliance, the three modest companies of Levy (Laboratorios Esme, Corporación Gulfos and Bleu Tel) took out a burdensome business that today is ruinous for Venezuelans. The nut that would screw Laboratorios Esme, for example, as one of the main suppliers of cleaning supplies to the state-owned Suministros Venezolanos Industriales (Suvinca) was the signing of a "letter of intent" between both parties.