Former Socialist minister named in €35 million corruption probe involving Venezuelan funds

Former Socialist minister named in €35 million corruption probe involving Venezuelan funds

Former Socialist minister António Vitorino – once tipped as a contender for party leader – is being cited by Spanish prosecutors over a “scheme of corruption and money laundering” involving more than €35 million in Venezuelan funds.

Vitorino has denied the allegations, saying they are “absolutely false”.

The story is being endlessly repeated nonetheless, with all the ‘alleged connections’ with Portugal being brought to the fore.

Say reports here, the scheme was headed by former Spanish ambassador to Venezuela Raúl Morodo whose son Alejo is married to the daughter of Portuguese politician Dias Loureiro.

Catarina Loureiro was cited in the investigation in May last year – denying the allegations.

After an apparent media lull, the case has suddenly kicked off again – with El Mundo newspaper saying Spanish prosecutors have now linked a company owned by Vitorino to the scheme.

Explains Correio da Manhã, “the accusation affirms that there was an appropriation of more than €35 million belonging to (Venezuelan State oil company) PDVSA.

“The money was sent to Spain through banks in Switzerland and Panama.

“According to Spanish Justice, the Portuguese company Emab Consultores Lda, owned by Vitorino and his wife Beatriz de Carneiro, were involved in this fraudulent scheme”.

Now director-general of the International Organisation of Migration, Vitorino confirms he is indeed the owner, with his wife, of Emab Consultores Lda but says the company has “never worked with Venezuela’s oil company”.

Cuatrecasas law office in Lisbon however – of which Vitorino is a partner – has however done business “of a fiscal nature” connected to PDSVA, though he himself “did not deal with it”.

In a statement sent to the press on Wednesday, António Vitorino said: “With regards to the news published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo on Saturday and picked up in other media and social media outlets, I herewith clarify that I have not received at any time, any communication from the Spanish authorities related to an investigation involving a consultancy company I was a managing partner of, and whose activities have been suspended since 2018. This company provided consultancy services to the Spanish legal firm mentioned in the article exclusively on issues related to the European Union and bilateral relations between Spain and Portugal.

Never were these services related with Venezuela, which means that it is absolutely incorrect to establish a connection between the company and an alleged embezzlement of Euro 35 million as referred to in the news. I firmly refute the allegations made in this respect and intend to use all means at my disposal to restore my reputation, the reputation of my wife as well as the reputation of the company. The company always respected the legal and fiscal obligations related to the services it provided.”

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com