Pandora Papers: Portuguese holding company helped Venezuelan officials launder $92 million in construction bribes
A man hiding money in his suit (Shutterstock.com)

On Monday, the Miami Herald released a new revelation from the "Pandora Papers" leak that has exposed how the super-wealthy and corrupt politicians hide their money. Specifically, the report detailed how Venezuelan officials appear to have controlled a $92 billion bribery scheme involving an embattled construction company.

"The documents reveal that prosecutors believe a Panamanian offshore company through which $92 million in alleged bribes were funneled was controlled by the wife of a top Venezuelan government official," reported Antonio Maria Delgado, Micael Pereira, and Joseph Poliszuk. "The massive leak exposed the offshore dealings of hundreds of politicians and world leaders. Documents show that bribes allegedly paid by the giant construction company Odebrecht to former Venezuelan Transportation and Public Works Minister Haiman El Troudi for contracts to build a new metro line in Caracas moved through Portugal's Espírito Santo Group, the holding company of Portugal's now-defunct Banco Espírito Santo."

According to the report, while authorities have long suspected a bribery scheme between Odebrecht and Venezuelan officials, the extent of Espírito Santo Group's involvement was unknown until the Pandora Papers drop.

"The millions paid in under-the-table Odebrecht 'commissions,' the subject of a joint investigation by reporters in 2019, were placed under the control of the Panamanian offshore company Cresswell Overseas," said the report. "Its secret beneficiary, prosecutors believe, was El Troudi's wife, Maria Eugenia Baptista Zacarias, a new investigation conducted jointly by Expresso de Portugal, Armando.info and the Miami Herald shows."

The Pandora Papers have uncovered a number of well-guarded secrets of international financiers, including how a Panamanian businessman acquired a failing Trump hotel and how the Legion of Christ Catholic order has hidden hundreds of millions in assets and financing while facing allegations of child abuse.

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