Feds look to seize 4 Miami area homes in $1B Venezuelan money laundering case

The properties include three houses in Coral Gables and one in Miami

Aug.August 31, 2018 12:30 PM

Clockwise from upper left corner: 597 Hibiscus Lane; 194 Isla Dorada Boulevard; 655 Casuarina Concourse;  6905 Prado Boulevard

The U.S. government is now looking to seize four more high-end South Florida properties that it alleges are tied to the defendants of a $1.2 billion Venezuelan money laundering case.

Federal prosecutors filed a notice of forfeiture in a U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida on Wednesday to seize three Coral Gables houses and one house on Hibiscus Lane in Miami’s Bay Point neighborhood.

The government alleges the properties are tied to the defendants of a scheme in which top Venezuelan officials and professional money launderers siphoned $1 billion from the state oil giant, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. Some of the money went into South Florida real estate, and federal officials have already sought to seize a luxury condo in the Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach as well as two Wellington properties.

Last week, a criminal indictment listed more than a dozen properties as “substitute properties” that the government can seize if necessary. On Wednesday, federal officials filed a notice of lis pendens, which seeks forfeiture of the four properties and makes them nearly impossible to sell.

The properties include:

  • A three-bedroom, three-bathroom house at 597 Hibiscus Lane, Miami. The property lists Olympia De Castro and Gustavo Hernandez Frieri as the co trustees of the 597 Hibiscus Lane Revocable Trust. Prosecutors allege Frieri was a professional money launderer based in Miami.
  • A five-bedroom, four-bathroom house at 194 Isla Dorada Boulevard, Coral Gables. The property is owned by Sky Investment and Field Construction, Corp, which lists its manager as Yngrid Silva of Icon Brickell unit 619 at 465 Brickell Avenue.
  • A five-bedroom, five-bathroom home at 6905 Prado Boulevard, in Coral Gables’ Cocoplum neighborhood. The property was owned by Britestar Worldwide Limited, a Florida company, which lists Fernando Valero and Yngrid Silva as its managers.
  • A six-bedroom, five-bathroom house at 655 Casuarina Concourse in Coral Gables’ Cocoplum neighborhood. It is also owned by Britestar Worldwide Limited.

Shortly after the initial criminal complaint was filed in July, the Miami Herald reported that Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro is being investigated by the U.S. government for his role in the alleged scheme.

One defendant, a former Swiss wealth manager, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering on Aug. 22. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 29 by U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida. As part of his plea, Krull admitted that in his position with the Swiss bank, he attracted private clients, particularly clients from Venezuela, to the bank, according to the Department of Justice.

Krull’s attorney, Oscar Santiago Rodriguez, did not immediately respond for comment.

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