(Reuters) – Venezuela’s former national treasurer admitted receiving over $1 billion in bribes as part of illicit foreign currency operations that involved a local television mogul now indicted in U.S. courts, according to U.S. court documents unsealed on Tuesday.
Alejandro Andrade, who ran the treasury for four years under late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, received properties, platinum and gold Rolex watches and Mercedes Benz vehicles thanks to the scheme, the documents from the Southern District of Florida say.
He did so with the help of conspirators including Raul Gorrin, owner of television station Globovision, who has been charged with paying bribes to Andrade and others as well as helping to launder the payments, according to documents unsealed this week.
The cases are part of a broad effort by U.S. federal prosecutors to crack down on the use of the U.S. financial system to launder proceeds from rampant corruption in the crisis-stricken country that is suffering from hyperinflation.
President Nicolas Maduro has said little about criminal proceedings against former Venezuelan officials, but says the United States is seeking to undermine his government through financial sanctions.
The Venezuelan Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.