January 8, 2019

Venezuelan currency exchange ring targeted by OFAC

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated seven individuals and 23 entities that it contends were involved in a corrupt currency exchange operation that has generated over $2.4 billion in proceeds.  The seven targeted individuals include the former Venezuelan National Treasurer Claudia Patricia Diaz Guillen (Diaz), who allegedly selected the exchange houses that sold US dollars to the Venezuelan National Treasury between 2011 and 2013.  According to OFAC, the exchange houses kept the difference between the official and black market exchange rates and used offshore accounts to pay Diaz and her predecessor hundreds of millions of dollars.  The heads of the exchange houses purportedly used certain of the illegal proceeds to acquire real property in the US and assets registered in the US on Diaz’ behalf.  The designated entities, some of which are registered in the US, are beneficially owned by the designated individuals.  On November 27, 2018, Diaz’ immediate predecessor in the National Treasury, who participated in the corrupt currency exchange scheme, was sentenced in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 10 years in prison. 

OFAC also issued General License 6 which authorizes activity that is ordinarily incident to the maintenance or wind down of operations, contracts, or other agreements, including the importation of goods, services, or technology into the United States.  General License 6 authorizes such transactions with respect to Globovisión Tele C.A., Globovisión Tele CA, Corp., or any entity owned 50 percent or more by these companies, for activity that was in effect prior to January 8, 2019.  General License 6 will remain in effect through January 8, 2020.