Swiss banker’s sentence slashed in alleged $1B Venezuelan money laundering scheme

Matthias Krull, a wealth manager with the Swiss bank Julius Baer Group, was initially sentenced to 10 years in prison

New York /
Mar.March 24, 2021 06:00 PM
Matthias Krull (Linkedin, iStock, US District Court - Sourthern District of Florida/Illustration by Alexis Manrodt for The Real Deal)

Matthias Krull (Linkedin, iStock, US District Court – Sourthern District of Florida/Illustration by Alexis Manrodt for The Real Deal)

A Swiss banker’s sentence was cut for his role in an alleged $1 billion international money laundering scheme that illegally funneled money into South Florida real estate.

Matthias Krull was a key figure in a sophisticated scheme in which Venezuelan officials and wealthy elite siphoned money out of the country’s state oil company, PDVSA, and into assets in Europe and the United States, according to federal prosecutors. Some of the money allegedly went to buy luxury properties in Wellington, Coral Gables’ Cocoplum neighborhood and in Sunny Isles Beach, including at the condominium Porsche Design Tower.

Krull, a wealth manager with the Swiss bank Julius Baer Group, was initially sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison for his role in the money laundering operation.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida reduced his sentence to three-and-a-half years in September, due to Krull’s cooperation with the federal government, according to an order that was unsealed on Tuesday. Krull is expected to begin his sentence in July.

The Miami Herald first reported the sentencing reduction.

Krull’s attorney Oscar Rodriguez did not immediately return a request for comment.

Federal prosecutors said that Krull cooperated immediately, which helped them go forward with other investigations. That included the guilty plea of two other defendants in the money laundering case, according to court filings.

Krull was allegedly a conduit to move $600 million in siphoned funds to a European financial institution, where the money would ultimately be used by Venezuelan TV mogul, Raúl Gorrín, as well as PDVSA officials, and three stepsons of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, according to the Miami Herald, citing federal law enforcement officials familiar with the case.

The scheme started in 2014, and Krull joined in about 2016 when a co-conspirator contacted him to launder the proceeds of a PDVSA money, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Eventually the money laundering operation, which exploited Venezuela’s fixed exchange rate for government officials, grew from $600 million to $1.2 billion

One of Krull’s clients was Francisco Convit Guruceaga, a main orchestrator of the scheme, according to federal prosecutors.

Separately, a former national treasurer of Venezuela, Alejandro Andrade, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018 for receiving over $1 billion worth of bribes from his co-conspirator, Venezuelan TV mogul Gorrín, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. As part of Andrade’s guilty plea, he agreed to forfeit his assets, which included 17 champion show horses and five real estate properties in Palm Beach County.





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