The reach of a corruption plot discovered in Andorra reaches Ecuador, which recently led to the judicial prosecution of 28 people, including former Chavista officials, businessmen and front men, accused of money laundering and bribery for contracts in the company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). They are accused of moving more than $ 2,000 million.
Last September, Canòlic Mingorance, judge of that small European principality, issued the indictments against the presumed members of that network, after investigations to deposits that were made between 2007 and 2012 in accounts of the now disappeared Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA).
The case involves 9 people from Andorra, 5 from Spain and 14 from Venezuela, including the former vice-ministers Nervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado and Diego Salazar, cousin of Rafael Ramírez, who was president of PDVSA between 2004 and 2013.
From the judicial inquiries to the accounts of the defendants in the BPA, the name of Omar Jesús Farías Luces and a transfer for $ 4,620,659.50 in favor of Memoser Compañía de Seguros S.A., Which have links with Ecuador, jump. The transaction was made from an account opened on December 19, 2006, in the name of Westshore International Limited, a company domiciled in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The deposits of this man, according to the investigation, reached 586 million euros that is 668’412,110 dollars at the current exchange rate.
Farías, a 56-year-old Venezuelan businessman, owns Seguros Constitución and a conglomerate of companies dedicated to various activities in his country. In August 2007, that insurer was established in Ecuador. For this, it bought the local company Memoser, which at that date reported losses of $ 684,754, according to the records of the Superintendency of Banks.
Farías decided to bring his investments to the country and that his group of companies take root in the national market. EXPRESO found at least nine companies registered since 2008 in the Superintendence of Companies (see infographic). They all have the same main address in Quito: the Titanium building, a 12-story building located on Avenida 6 de Diciembre and Ignacio Bossano.
Five of them remain active, although three (Asistanet, Dentalnet and Bencuer) passed into the hands of other shareholders.
On October 20, 2014, Farías and his wife, Anaymar Coromoto Mambel, transferred the total of their shares (90% and 10%, respectively) in Asistanet and Dentalnet to the Venezuelan citizen Pedro Cordero Gutiérrez and his wife, Livis Oropeza Villafañe.
They did the same, on July 4, 2016, with the shares of Bencuer, which were transferred to the Ecuadorian María Gabriela Borja Araujo.
The companies Seguros Constitución and R.P.F. Forecast Funeral Network remain the property of Farías. The ownership of the share package of both firms is in his name and that of Anaymar Mambel, his wife.
Of the active companies in which Farias is currently the majority shareholder, Seguros Constitución reports to the Internal Revenue Service the payment of $ 258,036.86 in income tax, from 2008 to 2017. Regarding the departure tax of foreign currency, registered the disbursement of $ 720,182.34 between 2008 and 2018, which means that in that period at least $ 14’403,646.80 came out of Ecuador.
The other company, R.P.F. Forecast Funeral Network, which provides funeral services, registers $ 25,660.45 in income tax payment and zero payment in the currency exit, in the last 10 years.
On May 7 last, the Superintendence of Companies and Insurance decided to declare in a state of forced liquidation to Seguros Constitución, for not complying with the minimum paid capital established in the law. The control entity had left insubsistente, two months before, an increase of the capital paid by $ 3.3 million.
Before the measure, Omar Farías, majority shareholder of the insurer, filed appeals for protection actions and request for precautionary measures, and obtained a temporary injunction.
EXPRESO requested an interview with the directors of the two active Farías companies. The Venezuelan Adam Méndez Pantaleón, legal representative of them, offered to deliver a statement on November 12.
Farías and Mambel also figure as the sole shareholders of the four remaining companies (Mednet, Farmasistencia, Constifactoring and OFL Consult Corporation), which were declared liquidation and dissolution by the Superintendency of Companies between 2014 and 2016.
Pedro Cordero Gutiérrez has been the owner since 2014 of Asistanet and Dentalnet; and María Gabriela Borja Araujo, from Bencuer, since 2016. Both businessmen clarify to EXPRESO that their companies today do not have any connection with the businessman prosecuted for alleged illegal acts.
On July 17, 2015, the justice of Andorra ordered arrest warrants and the seizure and blocking of the property of 8 of the suspects – among them Farías- and 24 companies, including Memoser Compañía de Seguros.
In Ecuador it is not known if the competent authorities have initiated investigations into the possible implications of the case. EXPRESO consulted the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Financial and Economic Analysis Unit (UAFE), but received no response.
The intervention in Andorra
In March 2015, the authorities of the Principality of Andorra intervened the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA), after the US accused her of laundering money. The investigation that led to the prosecution of 28 suspects had started with reports from the Intelligence Unit of Andorra and the Anti-Money Laundering Service of the French Ministry of Finance.
According to the judicial investigation, the defendants received illegal payments from companies that contracted with Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its affiliates. In the end, the money appeared in BPA accounts. According to a report in the Spanish newspaper El País, the defendants justified their millionaire income to the Andorran bank as fees for advisory work to companies.
In the police sights were included the accounts of Omar Farías in BPA. Rodney Cabeza, vice president of Seguros Constitución, told El País that the origin of the money of the president of the insurance company “responds to fully legal reinsurance operations.” The director detached Farías from any professional relationship with former Chavez officials involved in the plot.
A former employee bought one of the companies from the businessman before 2016, María Gabriela Borja Araujo, an architect by profession, worked at Seguros Constitución, whose shares belong to Omar Farías and his wife, Anaymar Coromoto Mambel.
Borja worked as head of Engineering and General Services in the insurance company.
$ 668 million moved Farías in its accounts in the banking of Andorra, according to the judicial investigation.
$ 8.3 million placed the businessman in 2007 for the purchase of Memoser, in Ecuador. (I)