Venezuelan opposition efforts to capture government's foreign assets draw scrutiny

www.washingtonpost.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
Guaidó's asset recovery chief denies wrongdoing. An opposition investigation has found "administrative irregularities" but no corruption.
Now two Miami entrepreneurs were offering a plan to get it.

Jorge Reyes and Pedro Antar said they had identified up to $40 billion in Venezuelan government assets across the Caribbean. The holdings, including shares in companies, luxury cars, lavish homes and uncollected debts, were linked to Venezuela's state-controlled oil company.

Guaidó, Reyes told The Washington Post, called the men himself in April 2019 to express interest. That led to more than a dozen meetings with senior members of Guaidó's U.S.-backed opposition and their agents.

But during a meeting last December in the Miami suburb of Doral, Reyes said he and Antar received a handwritten letter, a photograph of which was supplied to The Post, with a list of what he described as "shocking" demands.

Those demands included an upfront payment of $750,000 to a Florida company that state records show is co-owned by Magin Blasi, brother of a senior official at the Guaidó-controlled Venezuelan Embassy in Washington. That company would also become their partner, the letter stipulated, sharing in the 18 percent commission the men had negotiated with Guaidó's officials.

"I was astonished," Reyes said. "I asked myself, 'Does President Guaidó know about this?' I mean, these guys were clearly trying to do something illegal. You can't even talk about something like this on U.S. soil. It was extortion … Either pay, or we didn't get the contract."

After Maduro claimed victory in elections widely viewed as fraudulent, the Trump administration last year recognized Guaidó, the president of Venezuela's democratically elected National Assembly, as the country's legitimate leader. U.S. officials described the authoritarian Maduro as the head of a corrupt criminal empire engaged in drug trafficking and other illegal activities; the Justice Department indicted Maduro and several members of his inner circle last year on charges of narcoterrorism. Maduro and others charged have denied wrongdoing.

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