The Andorran connection (2nd Update)

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BancaPrivadaDeAndorraYesterday, the U.S. Department of Treasury designated the Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA) as a “foreign financial institution of primary money laundering concern”. After being informed by the U.S., the government of Andorra – a tiny country lodged between Spain and France that you probably have never heard of – quickly ordered the intervention of the BPA.

According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which investigates all matters related to money laundering, the BPA was aiding Chinese and Russian criminals. What does all of this have to do with Venezuela? Well, the official press release from FinCEN has the answer:

FinCEN’s action also describes the activity of a second high–level manager at BPA in Andorra who accepted exorbitant commissions to process transactions related to Venezuelan third–party money launderers. This activity involved the development of shell companies and complex financial products to siphon off funds from Venezuela’s public oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). BPA processed approximately $2 billion in transactions related to this money laundering scheme.”

Interestingly enough, this wouldn’t be the first time Venezuelan-related accounts would be frozen in this small land-locked principality/well-known offshore financial center. But this time, it feels different for two reasons.

One, the alleged direct involvement of the bank in handling irregular activities somehow reminds me of a movie. And two, the timing of this announcement, right after the public “tit-for-tat” on Monday between the White House and Miraflores Palace. Was it just a coincidence? Or is this the latest response to Maduro’s new “anti-imperialist offensive”?

I wonder who blew the whistle on the BPA… Perhaps, it came down to a high profile case, involving one Jordi Pujol.

1st UPDATE: Shortly after Andorra intervened the BPA, Spain did the same with its subsidiary Banco Madrid. In 2013, Banco Madrid was given the Capital Award for best private bank. Another winner that same night: Derwick Associates.

2nd UPDATE: The entire board of Banco Madrid resigned tonight, as Spanish authorities will investigate possible evidences of tax evasion and money laundering, involving both this bank and the BPA.

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1 COMMENT

    • I think that most of the regular contributors, at least, are sufficiently well-read to have heard of Andorra and know that it is a small country in Europe that survives principally as a banking tax haven.

      • Not really, they live of tourism and duty free commerce.

        Banking its a marginal business (4 families or so) and that is why they are going to throw el secreto bancario under the bus!

        Just wait and see

        • I do not mean to be the dissenting voice, but I wonder in which sense banking is marginal (e.g. transactions volume?, number of managed accounts?, capital value of operations? financial secrecy index?). As far as I can tell, Andorra is well known in world financial circles as a tax heaven for at least the last decade. Granted, not as traditionally famous as Switzerland, the Bahamas, Monaco, or Luxembourg but among the ones becoming notorious in the last years such as Cayman Islands, Cyprus, and Ireland. Most importantly and for what it really matters, even on the business of hiding money the Chavo-maburristas are fortunately pretty amateur and incompetent.

          • 4 or so families control the banking system in Andorra, which does not employ many people.

            The big majority of the population makes a living on tourism and duty free commerce.

      • Know? I worked there

        I dont think I spent there more than a year. If you dont do ski (I dont), dont smoke (I dont), dont drink (I dont)… the place is a boring small town where there is nothing to do at all.

        They make money out of cheap tobacco, cheap alcohol, cheap consumer electronics, and banking, more or less in that order. And losing the edge on the tobacco and alcohol due to the Spanish crisis.

      • No that is Monaco. Andorra did have races but they were all on Meteoro (that’s Speed Racer to the gringos out there), not in real life.

    • Oh, boy, this reminded me of that joke that said “Dad, do you know where is Takikistán?” and the poor dad was like WTF.

  1. The U.S. has been “following the money” for a long time. This is something they are really good at. Up till now, they had been sitting on that information. No more. More financial shenanigans will be hitting the news in the days ahead.

    • Today’s “RunRunes” in “El Universal” mentions that the part of Venezuela’s gold reserves which were sent by Chavez in 2011 on two Ven AF cargo planes to Cuba’s Central Bank for “safekeeping” were mentioned by the Castros to Maduro on his recent trip to Cuba as being in escrow for payment to Cuba for their valuable “medical doctor (sic)”/sports trainer/(spying) services sent to Venezuela–I’m sure these lost gold reserves were taken into account by F-Rod, when he claimed to have “seen” Venezuela’s gold reserves on a trip to Caracas, and, implied, “not to worry (suckers), just keep buying those well-backed Venezuelan bonds that BOA deals in”….

  2. Bwahahahaha!

    Each time maburro whines, the boliturds lose millions of dollars of those they stole from Venezuela!

    ¡Es que da un fresquito! xD

  3. Disclaimer: The following is pure speculation on my part. It could even be pure fantasy. I did not hear it or read it anywhere else, and I have no evidence to support it. Time will tell if my hunches have any merit.

    Suppose that private messages are being delivered as we speak to the top 100 or so figures in the regime. The messages say, “We know everything about what you have done. We know about all of the corrupt deals you have engaged in. We know where the money came from. We know where the money is now. You can’t hide from us. Here is the deal… The game is up. You cannot save the regime. You can only save yourself. Leave now. You don’t even have to resign. Just leave. Disappear and lie low. If you do that, we won’t go after your assets. You will be left alone to enjoy what you stole. But, if you don’t leave now, we will leave no stone unturned to assure that you are left without a penny. Decide now.”

    • It’s probably very hard to be a despot in a globalized world: a world where people can easily move to other countries; the international press is out of reach, and yet so close to people suffering under the dictatorship because of the internet; the money stolen by the despots can only be ‘safely’ guarded in banks in Europe and the US because, well, they just don’t know when the people will rise up and take the money back; everything they do against their own people will be professionally dissected by any moneyless private blogs like this one…

      And then you have the threats, which can come from anywhere, even by their fellow comrades!
      No wonder Maduro was looking like a zombie yesterday, hehe.

  4. Remember, the US left Noriega alone … until he started to screw around with money laundering on a large enough scale it could not be ignored much longer. Then, the USMC repo man came knocking…

  5. Regarding the Andorran $2 BILLION of PDVSA money-laundered funds, RR’s suegra, Hildegard Rondon De Sanso, just happens, by coincidence, I’m sure, to be Venezuelan Ambassadoress to Andorra (yes, the same person who stated some time ago, “Cacelorear es la maxima manifestacion moderna del Fascismo.”).

  6. Madrid’s reaction was very, very swift. It would just be the icing on the cake if any links between the Venezuela money flowing through Andorra and Podemos is uncovered….that would tick many boxes – both for Washington as well as Madrid. Because, let’s face it, does any ˆreally* think the full extent of the financial support of Caracas to Podemos has been exposed? I don’t think so.

  7. Look at all the immediate fallout from just one report from the U.S. about just one bank. More coming…

    When corruption exists on such a massive scale as exists in Venezuela, it has a corrupting affect on everything it touches. Maybe that is the sense in which Venezuela is a “threat”.

  8. Talking about how these bobos keep losing money – didn’t Chavez change all the US$ government accounts around the world into Euro accounts?

    That would be a pretty big hit considering the fall in the exchange ratge.

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