Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Oil for food ?, the other business that Saab is reviewed

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As if it were not enough to be requested in extradition by the United States and called to trial in Colombia, a new government joins those who are behind the Barranquilla businessman Alex Saab Morán: Mexico.

International media investigations revealed this week that the Aztec country is reviewing the participation of the 48-year-old Colombian in contracts for more than $ 236 million, entered into in 2019 with a company from that country. The objective? Learn the truth about Venezuelan oil for Mexican food exchanges involving the Bolivarian state contracting magnate.

According to what was published by El País and Armando.info, the Government of Mexico doubts the legality of the agreement signed in June 2019 between the Mexican company Libre Abordo – dedicated to international trade and without previous experience in the energy market – and the Venezuelan state company Corporación Venezolana de Comercio Exterior (Corpovex), for the export of Venezuelan oil in exchange for corn and tankers for drinking water from Mexico.

According to the United States Treasury Department, which is also investigating the case, the commercial relationship became effective in two million dollar contracts of which Mexico assures there is no clarity, but which allowed the dispatch of more than 30 million barrels of Venezuelan crude. , thereby violating US restrictions and sanctions on Venezuela.

In one of the contracts, Libre Abordo promised to send 1,000 tankers, each valued at almost 140,000 euros (approximately $ 165,000).

In the other, Libre Abordo signed with Corpovex that 200,000 tons of white corn would be sent to the Bolivarian country. These would cost 280.9 euros (approximately $ 332) each ton. It should be noted that the operations were carried out in euros and not in dollars to avoid sanctions imposed by the United States Government on Venezuela. The advance payment of 70% of the contracts was stipulated. This modality resembles the scam of the Local Supply and Production Committee (Clap) by which the US ordered the Interpol circular against Saab.

In this sense, the United States Government points out the company Libre Abordo to be complicit in the corruption network and illegal contracting schemes by which they point to Alex Saab, in favor of the Nicolás Maduro regime.

For this case, the Mexicans Joaquín Leal, 28 years old; Veronica Esparza, 47, and her daughter Olga María Zepeda Esparza, 24, were blacklisted by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC).

As Mexico and the United States have investigated, the head of the irregular business would be Leal, who they assure agreed with Saab on the sale of oil from the parastatal Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), from 2019 and until June of this year (when it was captured Saab in Cape Verde), with the facade that the agreement had a “humanitarian” character in favor of the Venezuelan people.

The governments that are investigating assure that Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s oil minister and close to Maduro – whom Saab has called “cousin” – was aware of the transactions. They also link the Mexican company Schlager Business Group, an ally of Libre Abordo.

On May 31, Libre Abordo filed for bankruptcy, after the US reported that it was investigating the business and shortly before the Treasury Department announced the inclusion of the three aforementioned individuals on OFAC’s list.

According to what was reported by international media, the Maduro government has not responded officially to the accusations of alleged irregularities in the aforementioned contracts; However, sources of the regime assured that the so-called “lack of clarity” in the contracts “is the product of the obstacles and sanctions that the United States has placed on Venezuela to carry out this type of business.

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