A U.S. grand jury indictment Friday linked Venezuela's intelligence chief to an alleged plot to interfere in Argentine politics by funneling 800,000 dollars to the electoral campaign of President Cristina Kirchner.
The indictment charged five men with illegally conspiring to act as agents of the Venezuelan government inside the United States in attempting to bribe a key witness in the plot.
The five, four Venezuelans and an Uruguayan living in the United States, were charged with having urged US-Venezuelan national Guido Antonini Wilson to cover up the alleged aim of the money, which he carried on an August 4 flight from Caracas to Buenos Aires, where customs officials seized it.
Antonini and several officials of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA were on board the charter flight, and the money was found in a suitcase Antonini was carrying.
The grand jury indictment said that the five subsequently sought in Florida to obtain Antonini's help in hushing up the plot.
They "offered substantial inducements to Antonini, including the payment of money and the preparation of false documents, in attempt to enlist Antonini's assistance in concealing the true source and destination" of the money, it said.
The indictment detailed that as part of this process Moises Maionica, one of the five, on November 6 spoke by telephone with a man using the nickname Arvelo.
Maionica then told Antonini that Arvelo would be calling him, and identified Arvelo as the director of Venezuela's Intelligence and Preventive Services Directorate, known a DISIP.
"The chief executive officer of DISIP is its director," the indictment notes.
The indictment also said that Maionica had told Antonini that DISIP and the Venezuelan vice president's office had brought Maionica into the case.
Last week, a Miami prosecutor said that Franklin Duran, another of the five, had said in a recorded conversation that the 800,000 dollars was for the electoral campaign of Kirchner, who was sworn in as Argentina's new president on December 10.
And earlier this week prosecutors said that Antonini had been offered two million dollars to hush up the plot.
Copyright AFP 2007