The Author whom Odebrecht Paid US$ 377 Thousand

The Sole Authority of the southern states of Monagas and Anzoátegui acknowledges that it received several transfers from the Brazilian construction company, but for issuing a book. Anyway, his is just a footnote in the list of payments without invoice made by the Brazilians. Where are the big shots? In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, silence is also a message.

26 February 2017

He does not know. He says he does not understand it. He cannot explain how his name came to appear on the Odebrecht lists. The Venezuelan engineer Lucas Valera was surprised to see himself involved in a list of clandestine transfers, which the Brazilian construction giant distributed from 2006 to 2008. It is about 377 thousand US dollars, which he affirms he does not remember. "Why should I know?" He asks. "I do not know…"

His transfer appears as fifth in a list of 18 transfers that Odebrecht acknowledged and submitted to the Peruvian justice as part of a process of "effective collaboration." Prosecutor Hamilton Castro presented that document on February 9. It has become one of the most important documents in the process that calls for the appearance of former President Alejandro Toledo, the copy of which -now leaked for this report- points Valera as the only individual in a tangle of companies and transfers in Peru related to the Odebrecht case.

The payments came from four offshore companies. Klienfeld Services Limited stands out. It is the already infamous firm that served Odebrecht to inject fresh money into the last re-election campaign of former President Hugo Chávez, according to the testimony that Brazilian publicist Joao Santana and his wife Mónica Moura gave a year ago in exchange for procedural benefits in the snowball rolling from Brazil known as Lava Jato.

Valera’s transfer, unlike the other 17, was made to a personal account in his name and, just in case, reiterated with the home area in Caracas. He, however, insists that he has nothing to do with this; that he does not know Josef Maiman or any of the other characters that the Peruvian Prosecutor has accused as frontmen of former President Toledo; that there must be an error. "You talk about Peru and if the President were in front of me I would not even know who he is."

The name Odebrecht is not alien to Valera. After all, he spent more than five years of his life working with them in the construction of the second bridge over the Orinoco River, as general project coordinator for Corporación Venezolana de Guayana. In 2003, he was even seen on the national radio and television station at the front of the work in a live transmission, which connected him from the south of Venezuela, in the state of Bolívar, with the Miraflores Palace. "Good afternoon President (...) This is a railway bridge that will allow us to link Bolívar, Anzoátegui and Monagas states through 166 kilometers of roads."

A Dream Come True

Odebrecht was already becoming the most spoiled Brazilian giant in Venezuela. But Valera's career did not start there, on the verge of the Bolivarian government or the Brazilians. On January 31, 1997, he was designated by the government of Rafael Caldera - in Official Gazette number 37.138 - as the Sole Area Authority to the south of the Anzoátegui and Monagas states, and a few days later he became part of the "Tender Commission of the Concession for the project, construction and exploitation, conservation and maintenance of the road system made up by the Mixed Bridge over the Orinoco River in Ciudad Guayana."

The dream of a lifetime: connecting eastern Venezuela with the south. Maybe that was one of the reasons that brought him closer to the late President Chávez, of whom he keeps photos sitting in school desks analyzing the plans of that 3.15-km (1.95-mi) portent with four circulation channels and a railway in the center. "He fell in love with the project," he recalls. "I admired him a lot because he was a very decisive, decision-making person, but unfortunately he died and we are in this situation."

The rest of this story is already known. Odebrecht settled in Venezuela with over 32 works like the postponed line 5 of Metro de Caracas and the Tocoma hydroelectric dam, which, unlike the scandal in other countries, the work is not even completed, e.g., the case of the Cacique Nigale bridge in Lake Maracaibo, in which the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) arrested two professionals two weeks ago —two Brazilian journalists from the Rede Record television station, Leandro Stoliar and Gilzon Souza, and the coordinators of the Zulia chapter of “Transparencia Venezuela”, Jesús Urbina and María José Túa— while taking notes and photos of another of the works of the unfinished museum of the Brazilian construction company in Venezuela.

After all, the second bridge of the Orinoco River, or Orinoquia Bridge, was built, along with 160 kilometers (nearly 100 miles) of road, within five years, even though the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon, five times longer, was ready in just three years at a similar cost: 1,166 million US dollars.

A book for 377 thousand US dollars!? Not even Vargas Llosa...

Although the amount of the original project tripled to more than 1.2 billion US dollars, Orinoquia is one of the best business cards for Brazilians in Venezuela. Valera insists on that. In fact, he admits that he did receive deposits from the company, but not for any kind of bribes, but for a book.

Writer in the Making

-They paid me some money for having issued a book that condenses the whole process of building the bridge.

-A book for 377 thousand US dollars? Not even Vargas Llosa...

-Well, it was a huge book that they used to celebrate the 10 or 15 years of Odebrecht in Venezuela, I believe. I do not remember the amount right now. I have to check because I asked them for cash advances of the total amount they were going to pay me for the book.

-Then there were several deposits?

-While the bridge was in progress, I asked them to make several payments for the book.

- Were the deposits made in a Luxembourg account?

-I do not know. They opened that account. They can move the money in that account.

- Why did you open a company in Panama in 2013 with two family members who have also worked at Odebrecht?

-It is a company that is not operational, where some economic studies were done, which is practically dead after the oil crisis.

The information about Valera is, in any case, a footnote in the list of payments that the Brazilian company brought to Venezuela and the rest of Latin America. It is no longer just Toledo, also former president Ollanta Humala was appointed in this third week of February 2017 in Peru. As well as the children of former Panamanian leader Ricardo Martinelli or officials and campaigns of Colombian archrivals Álvaro Uribe and Juan Manuel Santos, not to mention the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Odebrecht did not discriminate in ideologies. Though there are no names in Venezuela. The big shots do not appear, despite the fact that Odebrecht distributed at least 98 million US dollars in bribes.

Something had to happen for the Manuel Piar hydroelectric plant in Tocoma, in the state of Bolívar, stood out among the notes that the Federal Police of Brazil found in the notebook that the CEO of the construction company, Marcelo Odebrecht, stored in the cell phone confiscated from him. There were even textual references to the "(Venezuelan) opposition" and deputy Diosdado Cabello. "Diosdado was in Brazil with the ambassador. Will he have to take the box?" he warned on his cell phone.

Even worse is the confession of Brazilian publicist Joao Santana, considered a campaign guru in Argentina, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and, of course, Venezuela, where he coined the slogan "Chávez, heart of the fatherland". "It was about non-accountable payments for the electoral campaign of Venezuela, with Fernando Migliaccio, executive of Odebrecht in Brazil, being directly responsible," said the wife of the publicist, Monica Moura, who was in charge of the administration.

The Viceroy of Caracas

Now there are hardly any references to scraps, little more than anecdotes. Valera says he can assure that there were no bribes or surcharges in the construction field. "Not a dime was paid for the bridge. What's more, everything was done through the Ministry of Finance," he insists. "The one who was a friend of President Chávez was the director in Venezuela, Euzenando (Azevedo). He invited him. We transmitted five Aló Presidente (Hello President) programs from there."

Not in vain, on November 13, 2006, Chávez made a special mention about the representative of Odebrecht in Venezuela, during the inauguration of the second bridge over the Orinoco River. " A very special hug for Euzenando and a very, very special congratulation on his unwavering will of steel in giving impetus to the work and the different works in progress in Venezuela. A great friend, a Pernambucan also," he said at the foot of the bridge in the presence of Lula and the owners of the construction company, Emilio and Marcelo Odebrecht.

But as a prudent and discreet man, the tall Brazilian with good hair and good manners has known how to be invisible these days, when a large number of those who served as Odebrecht viceroys in Latin America have agreed to open their mouths in exchange for negotiating their future. On December 17 of last year he landed in Caracas aboard flight 223 from Panama. Although there is someone who does it well away from the country that was the last time he was seen in Venezuela, arriving in a blue jacket and white shirt.

The Prosecutor of the Republic, Luisa Ortega Díaz, reported on January 26 that they had requested an arrest warrant - with an alert in Interpol - against a person linked to the company. She did not reveal his name, although it is presumed to be Euzenando Azevedo for whom Chávez did not spare good words. That one does know who the big shots are.

(*)This report is published in alliance with the journalists of the Network of Structured Journalistic Investigations, which includes IDL-Reporteros in Peru, La Prensa in Panama, and in Venezuela.

¡Hola! Gracias por leer nuestro artículo.

A diferencia de muchos medios de comunicación digital, Armandoinfo no ha adoptado el modelo de subscripción para acceder a nuestro contenido. Nuestra misión es hacer periodismo de investigación sobre la situación en Venezuela y sacar a la luz lo que los poderosos no quieren que sepas. Por eso nos hemos ganado importantes premios como el Pulitzer por nuestros trabajos con los Papeles de Panamá y el premio Maria Moors Cabot otorgado por la Universidad de Columbia. 

Para poder continuar con esa misión, te pedimos que consideres hacer un aporte. El dinero servirá para financiar el trabajo investigativo de nuestros periodistas y mantener el sitio para que la verdad salga al aire.

Haz tu contribución aquí

Artículos Relacionados

Odebrecht's Masterpiece of Corruption worthy of an Art Gallery

Beyond the names of political figures and Government officials involved, the corruption plot deployed by the Brazilian construction company in Venezuela brought huge amounts of money in irregular payments into circulation. In Swiss banks, the transit of at least 235 million dollars was detected, mostly bribes linked to the Tocoma hydroelectric project, which after feeding the accounts of intermediaries reached their destination. For now, investigations determine that the capillarity through which the funds flowed led to art merchants, patriarchs of civil engineering dynasties, and even sports managers.

He who cuts the cake takes the biggest slice, learned the Viceroy of Odebrecht in Venezuela

Euzenando Azevedo had the doors of the Miraflores Palace open with Chávez and at the same time, he had a direct line with CEO Marcelo Odebrecht. Then, he became a key witness in the parade of plea bargains of the Lava Jato case. However, despite the many privileges, his testimony fell short. He failed to inform about some bank accounts in Switzerland that reveal that he kept money with one of the commissioners he had reported, Venezuelan lawyer Héctor Dáger.

Odebrecht Confessions

Kept under lock and key in Brazil since late 2016, the videos of the Odebrecht trial on Venezuela finally appear. As of today, begins to publish a string of clips that show the faces of the witnesses who documented the case. Some of their statements had already been published on this platform, but here they go with the voice and tone of their protagonists.

Haiman El Troudi Has no One to Investigate Him

The judicial authorities of Switzerland found a connection between the wife and the mother-in-law of the former Venezuelan minister with at least 40 million dollars deposited in eight bank accounts, one of which was shared with one of the main negotiators of bribes and kickbacks between Odebrecht and the governments of Chávez and Maduro. Although they asked the Venezuelan justice to investigate the matter, the courts denied any possibility of addressing the case and the Venezuelan Prosecutor's Office, led by Tarek William Saab, acts as if not aware.

Chavez's Wishes to enter Mercosur were Odebrecht’s Commands  

Neither the revolutionary commander of Venezuela, nor the charismatic president Lula of Brazil, but the senior staff of the construction company turned into the Major Elector when the Brazilian Senate had to vote on the incorporation of Caracas into the trading bloc. Based on the transcripts of the Lava Jato case, Marcelo Odebrecht personally led the lobbying campaign aimed to break the three-year blockage that prevented the entry of the Chavista regime into the club. The operation included the recruitment of three key Senators from the Workers' Party, as allies.  

Odebrecht also Unites the Venezuelan Family

More than 550 million U.S. dollars went through the cliff in some Pdvsa Agrícola (PDVSA Agriculture) facilities, which were partly built in four provinces of Venezuela. A new file of judicial documents and bank deposits of the Lava Jato operation -leaked for this report- involve Egly Ramírez (uncle of the former president of the state oil company and current ambassador of Venezuela to the United Nations, Rafael Ramírez) and other former officials in the biggest corruption scandal of recent years that established a systematic payment of bribes to people with responsibilities in the governments of Latin America, so that the Brazilian multinational could win the tenders.

Otras historias

Venezuelan Sex Slaves, a Booming Industry in Trinidad

They lose their freedom as soon as they set foot on any Trinidadian beach, and their “original sin” is an alleged debt that these women can only pay by becoming sexual merchandise. They are tamed through a prior process of torture, rotation and terror, until they lose the urge to escape. The growth of these human trafficking networks is so evident that regional and parliamentary reports admit that the complicity of the island’s justice system in this machinery of deceit and violence multiplies the number of victims.

A Venezuelan rascal in the Banco Espirito Santo's corrupt court

In front of the curtain of collapse of the major financial group in Portugal, José Trinidad Márquez, a native of Caracas, offered the stellar performance to his lifetime career of fraud. After swindling the high management of the bank, he’s taken refuge presumably in some part of Spain, where the press baptized him as “the golden middleman” or “the man with thousand faces”. With his well trained routine of a petroleum expert, who offers himself to try and arrange business connections with PDVSA, perfected over the course of more than two decades, he’s earned himself millions of dollars, as well as criminal accusations in various countries.

Alex Saab’s Penultimate Flight

Nicolas Maduro’s main contractor was arrested last Friday, right after landing at the international airport of Cape Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic, on the gates of Africa. It may be his penultimate trip, if he is finally deported or extradited to the United States, as U.S. authorities expect. It would be the worst of all endings after many years travelling and earning miles but, above all, millions of dollars thanks to opaque corporate structures, whereby he managed preferential currencies, public works, food supplies for the CLAPs, contracts with PDVSA, and even the trade of Venezuelan gold and coal since 2013.

In the Caribbean, a Buoy Floats for Chavismo's Finances

A small bank in Antigua and Barbuda, but controlled by Venezuelans, is at the center of some of the financial operations of Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Created in 2008 and with a diffuse trace for years, North International Bank began to take off in 2016 when it was authorized to operate in Caracas. Since then, it has been channeling millions of dollars to and from the coffers of the revolutionary ‘nomenklatura.’

Do You Need to Clear Your Reputation? There Are Deputies Available for Hire

For some months now, parliament members of different opposition political parties have been offering to make informal proceedings on request before agencies like the Colombian Attorney General's Office and the United States Department of the Treasury. They issue letters of good conduct to those responsible for negotiations on the imports for CLAP combos, so that such agencies absolve or stop investigating entrepreneurs like Carlos Lizcano, a subordinate of the already sanctioned Alex Saab and Alvaro Pulido. The fact that the most active defense of the main social program and focus of corruption of the government of Nicolas Maduro comes from the heart of the National Assembly 'in contempt' is just one of the ironies of this story.

General Rangel Gómez Under the Shadow of his Son-In-Law's Business in Mexico

The former chavista governor of the State of Bolívar from 2004 to 2017 changed overnight from excessive media exhibitionism to low profile. His departure to Mexico completed the circle of the retirement plan he had been preparing while on civil service. He was now staying in the same country where the businesses of his daughter's husband flourished, which he had significantly fostered from his positions in Guayana. Now, with financial sanctions imposed on him by Canada and the United States, Francisco José Rangel Gómez prefers to stay under the radar.

1 2 3 21
Sitio espejo
usermagnifierchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram