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Rafael Ramirez' Canaima Finance Ltd wired $12 million to Baldo Sanso

On April 20, 2022 Portugal's Public Prosecution investigating Banco Espirito Santo's (BES) corruption sent an MLAT to Switzerland. Bribe payments, money laundering, forging of documents and criminal association are the accusations put forth by the prosecution. Canaima Finance Ltd, a Panamanian shell company controlled by Rafael Ramirez that got €47 million worth of bribes from BES, is at the centre of this probe. It is described in a November 2023 ruling as "...L’une de ces sociétés offshores, J. Ltd, qui aurait servi les intérêts du Ministre […] vénézuélien de l’époque et avait été enregistrée, au Panama, au nom de l’épouse de son vice-ministre.." The Minister referred to is Ramirez. Milagros Coromoto Torres Moran (épouse) and Nervis Villalobos (vice-ministre) are also involved. On November 12, 2014 a $12 million wire was sent from Canaima to a relative of Ramirez and his wife: "... société K., enregistrée au nom de A., parent par alliance du Ministre en question, et de son épouse."

Parent par alliance is translated as relative, that is the mysterious individual is a relative of Ramirez and his wife Beatrice Sansó.

Diego Salazar, involved in various corruption schemes that cost PDVSA billions of dollars, is a relative of Ramirez, but was never close to his wife Beatrice. Salazar is known to have maintained accounts on Ramirez's behalf. Ramirez's brothers are involved jointly with Salazar (Andorra) and separately in other graft cases. Ramirez's uncle was designated to set up corrupt deals in Brazil with Odebrecht.

The one relative part of the inner sanctum that fits the description is Baldo Sansó, brother of Beatrice, and unofficial negotiator in PDVSA's critical matters. In relation to the criminal probe of BES, Portugal's prosecutors also sent treaty requests to Italy. Not about Salazar or Ramirez's brothers and uncle, but specifically about Beatrice and Baldo, because both are allegedly involved in the BES case.

Baldo's connection to Italy are well documented. His professional career includes consulting for Bain Capital in Milan between 2000-2006. Baldo's and Beatrice's mother, Hildegard (deceased), maintained a residence for many years in Rome's Via Germanico, and a bank account (La Cassa di Ravenna, acc CC0740223617) that received over €15 million worth of payments from Baldo and others.

Ramirez himself lived in an apartment in Rome bought by "son vice-ministre", i.e. Villalobos, who is also directly involved in the BES investigation.

The recipient of the $12 million payment from Canaima is represented by former prosecutor Pierluigi Pasi, in the recent past lawyer of Hector Dager, involved with Odebrecht in corruption schemes in Venezuela. Given personal situations of Salazar and Ramirez's brothers and uncle, it is unlikely that either of them were funding a legal fight with Switzerland's Public Prosecution Office (MPC) to prevent transmission of financial information to Portugal. The only one in a position to do that is Baldo Sansó.

There's another hint in MPC's ruling as to likely recipient of the $12 million transfer: "En septembre 2014, suite à la faillite en cascade de sociétés du groupe B., le numéro IBAN du compte de A. ouvert près la banque L. aurait été remis à l’avocat – mandaté par l’entremise de G. – chargé de résoudre la question de la vente des titres (banque D.) détenus par J. Ltd et de transférer les liquidités."

Translation: when BES could no longer avoid bankruptcy in September 2014, account details of subject in question (identified as A. above) were sent to legal counsel of BES representative in Switzerland (either Jean-Luc Schneider or Michel Joseph Ostertag), so BES bonds held by Ramirez in his Canaima Finance account could be sold and proceeds could be transferred to A.'s account. This was an attempt by Ramirez and his associates at BES to salvage whatever they could, by moving illicit proceeds to another account in a different bank likely controlled by Sansó.

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