The Maltese firm allegedly used by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other high-flyers to launder hundreds of millions of euros in pilfered State funds had been investigated by the FIAU several months ago.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the courts of Miami by the US Department of Homeland Security last week, staggering sums of money were syphoned from the country’s State oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela in a complex money laundering scheme.
The funds were allegedly wired, in part, to an unnamed Maltese firm between late 2014 and early 2015, the court documents say.
Sources involved in policing the Maltese financial services industry said the mystery firm was Portmann Capital Management Limited, owned by Swiss financial advisors Kurt and Yves-Alaine Portmann. The US court documents allege that the Maltese firm received upwards of €20 million for laundering the money, which works out to be a four per cent service charge on the racket.
Sources told this newspaper that the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, responsible for probing money laundering matters, had started reviewing the local firm last year and found a number of irregularities.
Although the issues raised were indeed linked to anti-money laundering compliance, The Sunday Times of Malta is informed that the FIAU had not been aware of the alleged Venezuelan scam at the time. The firm has since been slapped with an “unprecedented” €350,000 fine by the unit for a slew of procedural irregularities.
President Maduro has not been named or charged in the US criminal complaint that detailed the international money laundering conspiracy. However, established US newspapers have quoted sources familiar with the investigation who say he and other government officials and associates – including his three stepsons – were being investigated in connection with the case.