Is Luis Oberto laundering PDVSA money in St. Barts?
[There’s an encore to this story here >>] In September 2013, as part of the “Who is…?” series, I published a research report about Luis Oberto, a discreet member of Venezuela’s boliburgeoisie that has managed to keep a very low profile, in spite of an almost certainly illegal business career. Back then, I wrote:
…he’s moved into the hotel business in St Barts (Guillermo Pardo of Luxury Services would be the front man, while Hans Maissen would design the place) with Francisco Convit and another thug known as “el enano” Mariano Díaz (head of a criminal gang known as “la banda de los enanos”: corrupt lawyers that delay lawsuits brought in by Venezuela’s public prosecutors for a fee…) bold added.
Request for information sent then to St. Barts’ land registry office went unanswered. Fast forward a few months, to June 2014, and there it was official confirmation.
Now Guillermo Pardo is nothing but a straw man, as far as this issue is concerned. He comes from a disreputable Venezuelan family. His father -Antonio- was partner at times of wanted man Pedro Torres Ciliberto, and owned a company called PIVENSA -involved in a $30-million fraud against VENALUM (business was basically to get VENALUM to deliver alluminum on credit to PIVENSA, which would then sell it reneging on balance). Pardo has a brother, called also Antonio (Jr), who made news as Venezuela’s only skier in Sochi’s winter olympics. Antonio Jr is also a fraudster: Venezuela’s Comptroller Office barred Antonio Jr -and Antonio Sr- in September 2011 for 15 years (see p.2), due to a real estate scam. To boot, Antonio Jr’s partner is Carlos Kauffmann, of Valijagate fame.
Given the family’s pedigree, it was only natural for Guillermo Pardo to get into the luxury services business: read he organizes world renowned chefs to go cook breakfast for utterly corrupt Boligarchs in New York; gets transport sorted so that same Boligarchs can -while in shopping sprees in Paris- use cars they keep in different countries; sends them diving to exotic places, etc. In short, Guillermo Pardo is in the business of helping white collar crooks spend their ill gotten money around the world.
How he connected to Luis Oberto is still unclear, though given that Carlos Kauffmann brokered Antonio Sr’s purchase of Franco D’Agostino Caracas Country Club’s mansion back in the day, the link could conceivably come from there (Franco’s son Francisco D’Agostino and Luis Oberto hang together in NY). Or it could be from his dealings with Danilo Diaz Granados (also a friend / partner of Oberto), one of Pardo’s regular clients. It doesn’t matter. Fact is, Pardo negotiated building permits with St. Barts’ authorities on Luis Oberto’s behalf. As seen on records, Oberto is the managing director of Bucefalus.
The key question here is: did St. Barts’ authorities check that funds used to purchase plots AE 202 & AE 1727 to build that hotel were obtained legitimately? Are St. Barts’ authorities remotely aware of Oberto’s involvement in corruption scandals in Venezuela? The most recent, currently being investigated by American, Spanish and Andorran authorities, involves over $4-billion worth of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) dollars.
That building permit granted to Guillermo Pardo is from June 2014. By then Oberto had already syphoned possibly billions through a network of shells in Panama, Saint Vincent & Grenadines, and Andorra, assisted by bankers in Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, Banca Privada D’Andorra and EFG Bank.
Does Monsieur Bruno Magras know what kind of an investor Luis Oberto is, and the sort of “clientele” that his luxury establishment will bring from South America?
Google Earth shows the two empty plots without any ongoing construction works, nor any buildings in them. Satellite images can, of course, be old / outdated. I checked with more recent satellite imagery though, and plots look empty. No hotel thus far. The larger plot is meant to be for the hotel, while the smaller is meant to be used as a car park.
But then, gossip has it that Guillermo Pardo is no longer in good terms with Luis Oberto. Lawyers are allegedly involved. American lawyers. I also hear that Oberto is actively collaborating with U.S. federal authorities probing PDVSA and its former CEO, Rafael Ramirez. It remains to be seen whether we see Oberto’s name in one of those -already famous- indictments against Venezuelan businessmen of his ilk. Twitter messages and emais sent to Pardo requesting comment have not been answered.
In the meantime, I shall be sending quite a lot of info about Oberto to Monsieur Magras. Money laundering, after all, is illegal in France.
I have been researching and writing about corruption since 2002: first in vcrisis.com, then in blogger.com, Semana (Colombia), El País (Spain), La Prensa (Panama), Tax Justice Network, etc. The last site I launched, infodio.com, was banned by the Venezuelan regime. You can follow me on Twitter and Medium.