As Venezuela spiraled into impoverished hellscape, rich expats cashed in, records reveal

Photo: La Patilla


A few years ago, Venezuelan money maven Martin Lustgarten was stuck in a federal lockup on charges of laundering millions of dollars for Latin American drug traffickers as he confronted the grim reality of spending the rest of his life in prison.

By Yahoo News

Sep 21, 2020

Today, Lustgarten is a free man living in a $1 million Miami high-rise unit overlooking Biscayne Bay in a building aptly called Blue Condo — his criminal case dismissed because federal prosecutors mishandled it and couldn’t even take him to trial.

Lustgarten continues to count the money he amassed as a currency broker for Venezuelan business elites suspected of stealing billions and moving their fortunes to bank accounts in Switzerland, Hong Kong, Panama and Miami, according to sources familiar with his history. But behind the scenes, he has also been helping the federal government build criminal cases against his former compatriots.

Since pleading guilty to a minor visa violation in late 2015, Lustgarten has been assisting federal investigators and prosecutors in a sprawling Miami money-laundering probe targeting a former Swiss banker, a handful of connected Venezuelan businessmen and high-ranking government officials. They are suspected of paying hefty bribes while enriching themselves off the regimes of President Nicolás Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chávez, the late leader of the country’s socialist revolution.

In his cooperating role, Lustgarten’s value has been in pointing U.S. authorities in the right direction. He gave them a computer hard drive that he had obtained from a former Swiss banker, Charles De Beaumont, who became a business partner with Lustgarten after he left his bank, Compagnie Bancaire Helvetique, at the end of 2012, several sources familiar with his assistance said.

Read More: Yahoo News – As Venezuela spiraled into impoverished hellscape, rich expats cashed in, records reveal

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