The Criminal Chamber of the National Court (AN) has confirmed the prosecution of Duro Felguera, its former president Juan Carlos Torres and the former Venezuelan vice ministers Nervis Villalobos and Javier Alvarado for alleged bribes for the construction of a thermoelectric plant in the Caribbean country.

In an order, to which Europa Press has had access, the Criminal Chamber rejects the appeals made against the decision of Judge Ismael Moreno to place a total of twelve people and four companies one step away from the bench, thus accessing as requested by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

The challenge alleged that, “despite the extensive account of events by the Public Prosecutor’s Office” assumed by the head of the Central Investigative Court Number 2, “there is no fact that reflects international corruption.”

In his opinion, the judicial resolution did not indicate “what the attempt to corrupt would have been, which authorities or officials would have been corrupted, and how they would have been corrupted, to act or to abstain in relation to the exercise of their functions, functions that were also not specify or clarify.”

“There is no source of evidence that the awarding of the Termocentro project to Duro Felguera was due to corruption or any kind of gift,” said those investigated in the case.

However, the Criminal Court, in a presentation by Judge Joaquín Delgado, endorses Moreno’s decision because his order specifies how those investigated, “in their capacity as those responsible for Duro Felguera,” “decided to deliver various amounts of money ( up to, at least, a total of 105,627,600 dollars)” to Venezuelan officials through “intermediate companies” so that they could use “their capacity to influence” for the benefit of the Asturian company.

“And it explains that, with the objective of channeling all these payments, the people investigated created a corporate structure through which bank transfers were made; and thus their bribe was sent to each official investigated from January 2009 until, at least , March 2013,” he adds.

Among the defendants are, in addition to Torres, Villalobos and Alvarado, the wives of the former Venezuelan vice ministers, María Consuelo Pardí and Milagros Coromoto Torres, and the former CEO of Duro Felguera Ángel Antonio del Valle.

At the same time, the instructor ordered the provisional file regarding two people who participated in that Duro Felguera project, as he previously did with five other collaborators.

Regarding them, he pointed out that, although “the incriminating elements have been sufficient for the purposes of the investigation”, they are not sufficient to go beyond this investigation phase.

“The actions of these people, being condescending to some irregular (illegal) practice of their company, do not reach criminal relevance because, firstly, they did not know the true context of their actions and omissions and, secondly, they lacked power of direction and decision,” said the judge.

Regarding the dozen of those investigated, Moreno pointed out alleged crimes of international corruption, falsification of commercial documents and money laundering for events that date back to 2009 when there was “a major energy crisis in Venezuela” that led to restrictions and a declaration of ” electrical emergency”.

The judge reported that, “as one of the solutions to alleviate this emergency, the Venezuelan administration decided to build the ‘Planta El Sitio’ thermoelectric plant, in Santa Lucía (state of Miranda)” with the objective of supplying the Great Caracas, with 4.5 million inhabitants.

“For the award of this work, the then Minister of Electrical Energy, Rafael Ramírez, managed to appoint the Spanish company Duro Felguera” and “this, in exchange, promised to make several deliveries of money to Venezuelan public officials who determined said award,” he stated.

Moreno explained that, for the construction of the plant, Duro Felguera acted as UTE Termocentro, which signed “a series of contracts with Venezuelan entities and individuals that were intended to conceal the payment of commissions or bribes to Venezuelan public officials, so that they would benefit. the interests of said business”.

Specifically, he specified that at least 105 million dollars were paid to Villalobos through “intermediate companies” so that “he could use his ability to influence the Venezuelan administration for the benefit of that company.”

The magistrate maintained that it was this “favorable treatment” obtained through alleged bribes that allowed Duro Felguera to obtain the contract for the execution of the Termocentro project, valued at 1.5 billion dollars.