Trail of Venezuela’s Stolen Billions Leads to Caribbean Luxury Properties
People linked to alleged corruption in Venezuela appear to have invested millions in luxury properties in the Caribbean.
Nomirex Trading Limited and Bristoll Export Limited are two companies that played small roles in the transfer of funds in the Hermitage Capital Management case, one of the largest frauds in Russian history. Some US$230 million from the state budget of Russia was allegedly stolen by state officials in a case that led to the death of the Russian whistleblower, Sergei Magnitsky. Part of the money that was transferred through Nomirex and Bristoll was allegedly transformed into luxury property now in the possession of Russian tax officials.
Both Nomirex and Bristoll were sent money from another mystery company from the Republic of Moldova: Bunicon-Impex. In all, Bunicon sent US$1.2 million to the two companies.
Bunicon-Impex was established in July 2007 and in February 2008 started sending millions of dollars around the world. The Moldovan registry of companies lists Vladimir Piotr Bunicovschi as the owner of the company. Bunicovschi, 28, is a resident of the town of Ribnita in the northern part of the separatist Republic of Transnistria. Reporters from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) were unsuccessful in tracking down Bunicovschi. However, they did visit the headquarters of the company in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, and found an empty, dilapidated house.
Besides sending money to Nomirex and Bristoll, the Moldovan phantom company sent funds to Keronol Limited, a New Zealand based company involved in the Wachovia scandal and mentioned in connection with money laundering for the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel.