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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Alert on fraudulent transfers of petroassets to PEPs

Alert on fraudulent transfers of petroassets to PEPs
Following the asset seizure orders obtained by multi-national oil giant Exxon/Mobil in courts in the UK, Holland, and the Netherlands Antilles, against Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), the state-owned oil company, reliable reports have indicated that PdVSA plans to execute fraudulent transfers of its assets, to block collection of the multi-million dollar debts owed to a number of oil companies for nationalization of private property in Venezuela. The recipients said are to be Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) who are closely linked to the government, and will reportedly include some of the controversial front-men known there as "testaferros," or bagmen; individuals who have been accused of funneling Venezuelan state funds to radical leftist political organizations seeking the overthrow of democratic governments in Latin America. These transfers, intended to place assets out of the reach of creditors, constitute fraud, and they can be set aside by the courts in the countries where they are located. Also, any "payments" received by the recipients, to assure their cooperation, may be considered money laundering if local law enforcement agencies bring criminal charges. Bankers involved with these transactions are warned that there will be unacceptable levels of risk involved for financial institutions that are participants.
Sources inside Venezuela advise that senior government officials have been holding extensive private meetings with international lawyers experienced in the type of transfers PdVSA is contemplating.  the government oil company owns substantial global assets, including interests in refineries, minority interests in petrochemical facilities, and substantial holdings in related industries.
These "transfers" will obviously not be conventional sales, for market value, of these massive assets, which are worth millions or billions of dollars, and will constitute fraudulent transfers designed to impede creditors in the seizure and collection of assets. Prudence dictates that involvement with any phase of these transactions is to be totally avoided, as the financial institution, as well and the individual bank officers and employees may be exposed to civil action and criminal prosecution in a number of jurisdictions, as well as reputation damage.

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