Amid Venezuela’s growing crisis, the U.S. government has tied seven Manhattan condo buildings to a currency exchange scam run by the country’s so-called “boligarchs.”
The condos are part of a portfolio of holdings that, according to court filings, are “subject to forfeiture,” the New York Post reported. They’re worth more than $40 million.
The move follows allegations of bribery and money laundering against Venezuelan TV mogul Raul Gorrin, who has close connections to President Nicolas Maduro.
The buildings include a 4,557-square-foot apartment on the 47th floor of the Baccarat Hotel and Residences, which Gorrin bought for $18.8 million in cash. A holding company controlled by his brother-in-law also bought a full-floor apartment at 330 East 57th Street for $2.4 million.
The properties tied to Gorrin’s alleged scam were all purchased in cash by various holding companies between August 2010 and November 2017. Only two deeds have Gorrin’s name — those for the Baccarat Hotel condo and the 11th floor of 330 East 57th Street. Prosecutors linked two other floors in that building, the ninth and the 12th, to Gorrin, and deed for the 12th floor was signed by his brother-in-law, Gustavo Perdomo, who was hit with sanctions last month, the report said.
Prosecutors filed “lis pendens” against six of the seven apartments listed in Gorrin’s indictment, though three of those apartments have since been sold. The new owners told the Post that they didn’t know Gorrin.
Gorrin, who owns the Globovision news network, is on the run from an 11-count indictment in Miami that accuses him of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by helping launder more than $1 billion in payoffs to Venezuelan officials starting in 2008, the report said.
He was also one of the seven Venezuelan government insiders and 23 companies that faced sanctions last month. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there was an “illicit scheme that the Venezuelan regime had long used to steal from its people.”
The sanctions came before opposition leader Juan Guaidó invoked a provision of Venezuela’s constitution to declare himself president. His move was in the midst of a continuing economic crisis in the country and accusations that Maduro’s May 2018 re-election was fixed. [NYP] — Meenal Vamburkar