BEHIND THE CLAP

  • 03/09/2017 0:00:00 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The rebel prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Díaz, opened a real Pandora's box. Her accusation against Group Grand Limited not only strips the food import business for the popular Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP). It also confirms that the businessman from Barranquilla, Alex Nain Saab Morán, hitherto linked to former Colombian senator, Piedad Córdoba, is also a hinge of President Nicolás Maduro. From the port of Veracruz, at least 7 million boxes of food have been shipped to Venezuela by a ghost company with no permanent office in Caracas or Mexico, and thanks to a millionaire contract with the Venezuelan government.   

  • In Mexico, there is a long tradition of cheating in the supply of dairy products packaged for social programs. Hence, it should not be surprising that the Venezuelan corruption had found in that country the perfect formula to include in the so-called CLAP Boxes a paste purchased at auction price as cow's powdered milk. For a mysterious reason, ghostly or barely known companies are the ones monopolizing purchase orders from Venezuela.

  • The chemical analysis of eight Mexican brands that the Venezuelan government supplies to the low-income population through the Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP), gives scientific determination to what appeared to be an urban legend: it may be powdered, but it is not milk. The fraud affects both the coffers and the public health, by offering as food a mixture poor in calcium and proteins, yet full of carbohydrates and sodium.

  • 01/08/2017 9:54:05 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The accomplished election of the National Constituent Assembly has flourishing businesses between Mexico and Venezuela in suspense. The country of North America has considered adhering to the trade sanctions announced by Washington, now that the chavista regime will cease the Parliament elected in 2015 and will initiate a raid against the political opposition. If the decision materializes, it will be a blow to the flourishing trade exchange between the two countries, which has allowed stocking the Local Supply and Production Committees, President Nicolás Maduro’s emergency plan to face shortages and the discontent of the population with Mexican supplies. It is a silent business, marked by opacity, from which entrepreneurs linked to the Venezuelan regime, as Samark López and Alex Saab, have benefited.

  • 15/04/2018 0:00:00 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The tension between the governments of Nicolás Maduro and Juan Carlos Varela is nonstop. But the surge of trade retaliations from both capitals peculiarly leaves some of the companies that since 2017 provide merchandise to Chávez’s flagship program (the Local Supply and Production Committees - Clap) unharmed. Two of these companies show the profile of opportunistic shell companies.

  • 11/03/2018 0:00:00 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The Venezuelan government has resorted to a myriad of trading intermediaries to provide imported merchandise for the Claps, its star food aid program. With massive purchases in international markets, it poorly satisfies the hunger of popular sectors while safely feeding the financial flows that end in bank accounts in Hong Kong or Switzerland.

  • 18/03/2018 0:00:00 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The network of intermediaries contracting with the Venezuelan Foreign Trade Corporation (Corpovex) to bring CLAP boxes seems infinite. In Sabadell, a town near Barcelona, a virtually cash shell company got 70 million dollars for outsourcing the shipment of food to Venezuela thanks to the administration of Nicolás Maduro, which buys the contents of the boxes at discretionary prices and without control. Last year alone, the government spent 2,500 to 3,500 million dollars, but only the leaders of the "Bolivarian revolution" know the actual figure.

  • 19/02/2017 11:35:03 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The inclusion of the Venezuelan businessman in the list of drug traffickers and money launderers in the United States of America reveals the plot of his business with Nicolás Maduro’s regime. First, he sold kits for the government's housing building programs. Then, he benefited from the massive sale of food and even Christmas decorations; all this through a structure that has found, to date, shelter in the jurisdiction of Barbados. The small Caribbean island acts as the lair that hides some of its assets to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

  • 05/08/2018 12:10:35 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    An unknown company called Salva Foods 2015 —created months before Nicolás Maduro put out his idea of establishing a network of stores for the state program of the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP)—is the current beneficiary of that business. They are called CLAP Stores and are mistaken for a state-owned company, with food outlets where there were once the premises of Abastos Bicentenarios (state-owned supermarkets). Behind that operation, the shadow of Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Nain Saab Morán and Álvaro Pulido Vargas reappears, both linked since early 2017 to the CLAPs due to a dummy company registered in Hong Kong.

  • 17/06/2018 12:46:08 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    The Hong Kong-registered company, linked to Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Nain Saab Morán and Álvaro Enrique Pulido Vargas, seems to be the great ally of Nicolás Maduro Government. Millionaire contracts for the supply of millions of CLAP boxes, the flagship program of Hugo Chávez's successor, were just the beginning. The company, with a foggy trail in Venezuela, also acts as the intermediary of the Ministry of Health in the purchase of the highly-scarce medicines in hospitals and pharmacies in the country.     

  • 16/09/2018 15:18:56 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    Turkey and the coastal emirates of the Arabian Peninsula are now the homes of companies that supply the main social -and clientelist- program of the Government of Venezuela. Although the move from Mexico and Hong Kong, seems geographically epic, the companies has not changed hands. They are still owned by Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Nain Saab Morán and Álvaro Pulido Vargas, who control since 2016 a good part of the Import of food financed with public funds. Around the world for a business.  

  • Mexican authorities blame Venezuelan authorities for not verifying the quality of the products included in the combos for the Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP). Even though the companies provided false information on the packaging, they wash their hands with bureaucratic technicalities and continue granting export permits. In Venezuela, no official wants to talk about it. For months, the Government of Nicolás Maduro bought and distributed among the poorest several powdered milk brands of the lowest quality.

  • While the key role of Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Saab Morán and Álvaro Pulido Vargas in the import scheme of Nicolás Maduro’s Government program has come to light, almost nothing has been said about the participation of the traders who act as suppliers from Mexico. These are economic groups that, even before doing business with Venezuela, were not alien to public controversy.

  • Even though there are new brands, a new physical-chemical analysis requested by Armando.Info to UCV researchers shows that the milk powder currently distributed through the Venezuelan Government's food aid program, still has poor nutritional performance that jeopardizes the health of those who consume it. In the meantime, a mysterious supplier manages to monopolize the increasing imports and sales from Mexico to Venezuela.

  • 26/05/2018 11:43:52 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    New documents show that the Hong Kong-registered company is one of Nicolás Maduro’s favorite to do business. While there are companies in the Venezuelan private sector that wait years for the payment of foreign currencies, in 2017, this company obtained at least two contracts for the supply of over 20 million of the boxes that the Government sells at subsidized prices, and it invoiced 113 million dollars to the Ministry of Food in just one day. The papers also confirm the connection of this company with Fondo Global de Construcción (Global Construction Fund), a network built by Colombian entrepreneurs Alex Nain Saab Morán and Álvaro Enrique Pulido Vargas, through which they obtained contracts under Hugo Chávez for the construction of prefabricated houses.

  • 23/04/2017 12:12:38 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    Alex Saab's name reappears. The Colombian entrepreneur, linked to the contractor Global Construction Fund, seems to reinvent himself. Thanks to a company registered in Hong Kong, he has managed to sell food to Venezuela for over 200 million dollars in a negotiation approved with Nicolás Maduro’s signature and the intermediation of the State Government of Táchira, led by José Gregorio Vielma Mora. The products, paid with preferential dollars but billed with a surcharge, have been directed to the Local Committees for Supply and Production (CLAP), the flagship program whereby the Venezuelan authorities intend to mitigate hunger.

  • 27/01/2019 11:32:59 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    Gassan Salama, a Palestinian-cause activist, born in Colombia and naturalized Panamanian, frequently posts messages supporting the Cuban and Bolivarian revolutions on his social media accounts. But that leaning is not the main sign to doubt his impartiality as an observer of the elections in Venezuela, a role he played in the contested elections whereby Nicolás Maduro ratified himself as president. In fact, Salama, an entrepreneur and politician who has carried out controversial searches for submarine wrecks in Caribbean waters, found his true treasure in the main social aid and control program of Chavismo, the Clap, for which he receives millions of euros.

  • 24/03/2019 13:28:01 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    Adrián Perdomo Mata has just entered the list of sanctioned entities of the US Department of the Treasury, as president of Minerven, the state company in charge of exploring, exporting and processing precious metals, particularly gold from the Guayana mines. His arrival in office coincided with the boom in exports of Venezuelan gold to new destinations, like Turkey, to finance food imports. Behind these secretive operations is the shadow of Alex Saab and Álvaro Pulido, the main beneficiaries of the sales of food for the Local Supply and Production Committee (Clap). Perdomo worked with them before Nicolás Maduro placed him in charge of the Venezuelan gold.

  • 28/10/2018 12:00:00 |

    ROBERTO DENIZ

    Multiple indications suggest that Colombian entrepreneur Alex Saab, one of the largest suppliers of the food programs of the Government of Nicolás Maduro and target of the police investigations of several countries, participates in the opaque exchange of precious metals for consumer goods established between Venezuela and Turkey. The new president of the state company Minerven being a former employee of his, is just one of the clues.

  • A study by Mexican authorities confirms what the palate of the Venezuelans quickly detected: There is something odd in the Mexican canned tuna that comes in the combos of the Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP). At least three of the brands that the poorest homes have consumed in the country since March 2016, when the state plan was formalized, have high proportions of soy, a vegetable protein that although not harmful, it does not have the same taste and protein contribution of tuna. Behind the addition of soy there is an operation to reduce costs where all the intermediaries, handpicked by the Venezuelan Government to buy the goods, have participated.

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