Message to INFODIO readers: investigative journalism, which is what this site does, takes lots of time. Visiting media looking for a quick run down on Venezuela's gargantuan corruption, have the decency to at least cite the source when plagiarising this site's content without attribution (exhibit Reuters here and here, exhibit Bloomberg here, exhibit OCCRP here). To all readers, do the right thing, the honest thing: support independent investigative journalism, help us expose rampant corruption. Note added 28/06/2021: impostors are using INFODIO's former editor's full name, and a fake email address (alek.boyd.arregui at to send copyright infringement claims / take down requests to web hosting companies (exhibit Hostgator). The attempt is yet another effort paid by corrupt thugs to erase information about their criminal activities. has no issues with other websites / journalists using / posting information published here, so long as the source is properly cited.

UPDATED - Nervis Villlalobos & Rafael Ramirez' web of corruption exposed

UPDATED 13/11/2020 - 06/09/2022 - In September 2013, this site wrote "...PDVSA assigned dollars to a foreign corporation and people wanting to offload Bolivares and get dollars were offered the scheme. It is alleged that a Panama-vehicle controlled by Oberto Jr (purportedly Violet Advisors) was assigned dollars, which were then paid into Violet's account at Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique (CBH), in turn used by Danilo Diaz Granados and Charles Henry de Beaumont; Victor Vargas (owner of CORP Banca and Banco Occidental de Descuento or BOD) is alleged to have bought into the deal, paying his due in a Banco Industrial de Venezuela bank account belonging to a company called Atlantic..."

Since then, Atlantic's $4.067 billion money laundering scheme with PDVSA has been unraveling in different places. We kept hearing that Nervis Villalobos was a key figure. The workflow was believed to have been: Luis and Ignacio Oberto came up with the plan but did not have access to Rafael Ramirez; they called on their good friend Francisco D'Agostino, who in turn got his mate / partner Alejandro Betancourt involved; Betancourt had kept the counsel of Villalobos -from previous power plant procurement deals with Derwick Associates- and asked him to present Obertos' scheme to Ramirez, which resulted in Ramirez granting $4.067 billion to Atlantic, the shell created for the purpose. From there it was plain sailing.

But it was hearsay, and there was little in the way of solid evidence. No more. In any crime, it is never what people talk about, but what can be proven in a court of law. In this, $4.067 billion money laundering case, this site has the entire chain of evidence, since inception to what ultimately represents conclusion: payment of bribes to those who got the deal going.

We have the contract between Nervis Villalobos and Derwick Associates, dated 14 January 2010, whereby Villalobos undertakes to represent Derwick and chase deals for it with Venezuelan institutions.

We have the contract between Nervis Villalobos and Atlantic (Juan Andres Wallis Brandt signing), dated 8 January 2012, whereby Villalobos undertakes to represent Atlantic in negotiations regarding a "debt plan with a State entity of first order" (read PDVSA), while Atlantic commits to pay Villalobos 4% total amount of loan agreement with PDVSA.

We have the loan (17,490,000,000 Bolivares) proposal letter that Juan Andres Wallis Brandt (Obertos' proxy) sent to Rafael Ramirez on behalf of Atlantic, dated 29 February 2012.

We have Ramirez, Eulogio del Pino, Asdrubal Chavez and Victor Aular (PDVSA board) officially approving in extraordinary board meeting Wallis' loan deal 6 March 2012.

We have a letter signed by Ramirez, also dated 6 March 2012, pitching and justifying the deal to board members, and designating Victor Aular as person in charge for all issues pertaining contract with Atlantic.

We have the signed contract, between Atlantic (Wallis Brandt) and PDVSA (Aular), dated 12 March 2012.

We have a notification from Violet to PDVSA, dated 16 March 2012, whereby Atlantic's (Wallis) gives "...totality of rights and obligations..." pertaining the loan contract between Atlantic and PDVSA to Violet Advisors, a shell controlled by Ignacio Obertos. Violet undertook to pay Atlantic 2,928,360,417 Bolivares for said rights.

We have another cession of rights and obligations document from Atlantic to Welka -pertaining the Atlantic - PDVSA contract- signed between Wallis Brandt and Luis Oberto in Caracas on 15 March 2012, for 28.5% of rights of loan contract. Welka undertook to pay Atlantic 834,582,718.84 Bolivares.

The Obertos, therefore, "bought" for 3,762,943,135.84 Bolivares (~$875 million) from Atlantic, a contract with PDVSA that was worth 17,490,000,000 Bolivares (~$4.067 billion).

We have a contract between Violet and Welka, dated 8 June 2012, whereby Violet allows Welka to participate in the loan scheme with PDVSA for a €16,000,000 consideration.

For compliance reasons, arrangement between PDVSA and Violet would change to benefit Welka Holdings Limited in 2013. We have the document whereby Violet cedes all rights and obligations to Welka.

We have registry documents, from Panama (Violet) and St Vincent & The Grenadines (Welka), showing Ignacio Oberto and Luis Oberto as ultimate beneficiary owners.

We have communication sent from Violet to PDVSA, with instructions of where payments as per contract should be made (EFG Bank and Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique), dated 16 March 2012.

We have internal compliance documents, from EFG Bank, onboarding the Obertos (Violet) as well as justification for the money laundering scheme, from February 2012.

We have a legal opinion, produced by Tamara Adrian, trying to justify the deal according to Venezuelan legislation for compliance purposes, dated 9 February 2012.

We have emails, also from EFG Bank compliance dept., whereby Banco Espirito Santo informs EFG Bank that a "wire transfer ordered by PDVSA" (first ever payment - $230 million) is to reach Obertos' Violet account at EFG, dated 21 March 2012.

We have evidence, again from EFG Bank's compliance, of transfers from PDVSA's Banco Espirito Santo's account into Violet' EFG Bank's account 584684, totalling $1 billion between 21 March and 11 April 2012.

We have a letter dated 13 April 2012 given to EFG Bank's compliance department justifying: 1) payments in USD to Violet due to it being a foreign (non Venezuelan) company, and 2) payment of 4% commission to Villalobos for "professional services".

We have evidence of bribe payments made into different shells ultimately controlled by Betancourt (Calandra Business, Banstead Assets, Minenven, Delphi, Julotti, Zoletto, Imminvest, IPC Investments, Vecon, and Sinfin). These got around $80 million from Violet into accounts held in Bank Frey, Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, HSBC, and Julius Baer, between March 2012 - March 2013.

We have registry documents from Barbados, showing that Betancourt, Francisco Convit and Pedro Trebbau are Minenven's company directors.

We have Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique's documents that link Betancourt & co, the Obertos, Alessandra Gherardi (Charles Henry de Beaumont's wife) and Danilo Diazgranados to the scheme.

We have EFG Bank's documents that link Betancourt & co, and the Obertos, to the scheme.

We have evidence from EFG Bank linking the Obertos (Violet) to Pedro Binnagia, charged in another $1.2 billion money laundering case (Money Flight), which also involved Francisco Convit (partner of Betancourt).

We have documents showing Villalobos purchasing an apartment in 38 Via dei Monti Parioli in Rome for €2,500,000, dated 3 March 2012, an apartment to which Ramirez moved in after resigning his diplomatic post in New York in early December 2017.

We have a letter, dated 15 May 2012, whereby Violet undertakes to honour 4% commission agreed in contract between Villalobos and Atlantic, and commits to make a "series of payments" starting in May 2012, into Vamshore Enterprises Ltd's (shell controlled by Villalobos) account number 0006 0008 2712 0054 6984 at Banca Privada d'Andorra, for services rendered by Villalobos to Atlantic in getting PDVSA to approve money laudering deal.

We have another letter, dated 25 May 2012, whereby Welka undertakes to honour 4% commission agreed in contract between Villalobos and Atlantic, and commits to make a "series of payments" starting in May 2012, into same Vamshore Enterprises Ltd's (shell controlled by Villalobos) account number 0006 0008 2712 0054 6984 at Banca Privada d'Andorra, for services rendered by Villalobos to Atlantic in getting PDVSA to approve money laudering deal.

We have evidence, from Banca Privada d'Andorra, that shows payments made (11 July / 14 September 2012) into Vamshore's account (as described) for €55,620,453.73 that originated from Violet's account at Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique.

Luis & Ignacio Oberto wire bribes to Nervis Villalobos

We have evidence of a communication, dated 4 October 2012, sent from INTERPOL Andorra to INTERPOL's offices in Caracas, Quito, Washington, Madrid, Paris and Bern, requesting information about Villalobos and others. That is, law enforcement in, at least, Andorra, Spain, France, Switzerland, U.S., Ecuador and Venezuela have been aware of Villalobos' criminal activities since October 2012.

If this site has been able to gather enough evidence to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, the corrupt nature of this $4.067 billion operation, how come Villlalobos and Ramirez still walk free? None of this could have happened without Ramirez. How come he has not been indicted? How come the Obertos were allowed to flee U.S. soil recently?

Today, we got terrible news: Florida star prosecutor Michael Nadler, the man who's done more than anyone to bring these thugs to justice, is leaving. There's no guarantee whatsoever that his replacement will prosecute Venezuela-related cases with similar zeal. Will these criminals get away with it?

Andorra sent Letter Rogatory to DoJ re Nervis Villalobos / Javier AlvaradoUPDATED 13/11/2020 - Investigating authorities from Andorra sent a Letter Rogatory to DoJ in January 2018 regarding involvement of Villalobos in a vast money laundering scheme. In the Letter, Magistrate Canolic Mingorance explains that Villalobos et al structured a scheme through which bribe payments "...were made through the accounts of the accused and of the Panamanian companies controlled by them at the banking entity BANCA PRIVADA D'ANDORRA, through which more than USD 2,000,000,000 passed..."

Do note, that the $2 billion that Magistrate Mingorance claims went through Banca Privada d'Andorra are separate from the Atlantic - PDVSA $4.25 billion scheme structured at EFG Bank / Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, i.e. is a different money laundering scheme.

Villalobos was summoned for declarations in Madrid, where he had been arrested in connection to this and other charges. Villalobos refused to declare, and thus it was recorded in Juzgado Central de Instrucción no 002 on 15 January 2018. Spain's Audiencia Nacional subsequently ruled against temporary extradition of Villalobos.

In the case of Javier Alvarado, also indicted in Andorra in same case, Spain's judiciary simply refused to extradite Alvarado altogether.

Rafael Ramirez was at the core of the scheme and, ultimately, had the last word in granting billions of dollars worth of contracts through his team of corrupt facilitators.

Add to Breaking news