The United States stole Venezuela’s Citgo Petroleum Corporation in 2019 and handed over to the people that Washington is now recognizing as the coup government in Venezuela led by Juan Guaido, according to an American human rights expert and peace activist.
Daniel Kovalik, who teaches international human rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in the state of Pennsylvania, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday.
President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has reportedly lobbied US prosecutors to avoid possible prosecution of his wealthy Venezuelan client due to his financial support for Venezuela’s opposition figure Guaido.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Reuters reported that Giuliani urged, last year, the Justice Department prosecutors to go easy on Alejandro Betancourt.
Betancourt — an executive with the Venezuelan state-owned oil company in Florida — is the subject of a criminal investigation into $1.2 billion in alleged money laundering in the US state.
In an August meeting in Spain, Betancourt told Giuliani he secretly helped bankroll Guaido’s efforts to topple the government of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro, according to people familiar with the situation.
Kovalik said that “it’s quite interesting. I mean it sounds like former mayor Giuliani acting in his role appears as a lawyer for Donald Trump is trying to get leniency for a Venezuelan living in Florida who has been charged by prosecutors in Florida for laundering over a billion dollars, illegally laundering over a billion dollars in the state.”
“Giuliani is saying that this gentleman Alejandro Betancourt has been helping with the attempted coup in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro, therefore, should be given a lighter sentence because of his help. It’s not clear to me whether the money laundering is linked to that help with the coup but probably is,” he stated.
“The individual being charged with money laundering is apparently now an official of Venezuela’s US oil company Citgo which the US really stole from Venezuela in 2019, and handed over to the people you know that the US is now recognizing as the coup government in Venezuela led by Juan Guaido,” he noted.
“So probably this gentleman in Florida was using proceeds from Citgo to help Guaido and his attempt to overthrow President Maduro,” he said.
“But I guess the long and short of it is why should have a Venezuelan national be given leniency for using laundered money to engage in an illegal coup. I mean why should Florida prosecutors give him any flak because of that. In fact, he should be given a bigger sentence for meddling in another country’s affairs,” he noted.
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*All posts on behalf of PressTV are made by Jim W. Dean