We’re a bit late to this story, but in case you missed it, you really owe it to yourself to spend some quality time with Ethan Bronner and Michael Smith’s stunning long piece about Martín Rodil in Bloomberg Businessweek.
A one-time PDVSA intern and eventual Roger Noriega pal, Martín Rodil eventually carved out a highly specific niche for himself helping corrupt Venezuelans who wanted to cut a deal with Uncle Sam find a way to cooperate.
The guy has his fingers in an unfeasibly large number of pies, but the biggest story in the piece is about the way one of his clients helped reveal that Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela was actually being used as a sanctions-busting conduit to ferry billions of dollars to Iran:
The documents Rodil handed over revealed that PDVSA had financed and managed at least three contracts with Iranian construction companies, worth more than $2.3 billion. Of 24,000 units planned, only a couple thousand had been built. The PDVSA engineer was the manager on one of the projects, operated by Iranian International Housing. He’d spent a year dealing with the Iranians. They were tyrants on the job site, and he considered them corrupt and overpaid—the agents of a vast rip-off of his country. “I knew something strange was going on, and I was fed up with it,” he said in October in a phone interview from Venezuela, asking that his name be withheld because of fears he’d be accused of treason and jailed.
The engineer’s great value was that he knew about the money in detail. On his project, his documents showed, the Iranians were being paid roughly $74,000 per apartment, four or five times what a unit cost to build. Prosecutors suspect it was a way for Chávez, until he died in 2013, and then Maduro to move money to Iran.
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