Thursday, Jun 08, 2023

Venezuelan tycoon shields US fortune from FARC rebel victims

Venezuelan tycoon shields US fortune from FARC rebel victims

An appeals court overturned a Florida federal judge’s order seizing the U.S. fortune of a sanctioned Venezuelan billionaire with alleged cartel ties to satisfy a $318 million judgment for the American victims of a Colombian terrorist kidnapping.
Samark López is one of Venezuela’s most powerful businessmen, with close ties to that country’s socialist government. He has been indicted in New York for allegedly violating sanctions freezing his sizable wealth in the U.S., including yachts, aircraft, luxury real estate in Miami and a $269 million Citibank account

The ruling Tuesday by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a 2020 order by Judge Robert Scola of Miami awarding those blocked assets to three former American defense contractors held for years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia to satisfy an earlier judgment against their former captors, a U.S.-designated terrorist group.

López has long denied any links to the FARC. With testimony from Dick Gregorie, a former prosecutor who has put hundreds of narcos behind bars, including Gen. Manuel Noriega of Panama, his attorneys argued that the U.S. government and the plaintiffs hadn’t produced any evidence linking López even indirectly to the rebels.

The argument persuaded the appeals panel, which returned the case to the lower court and ordered that Lopez’s frozen assets can only be disbursed to the FARC victims if a jury concludes that a relationship exists.

In a unanimous opinion, appellate Judge Adalberto Jordan likened the allegations against López to a popular parlor game, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, which involves linking the Hollywood star to other actors via their roles in six films or less.

“Common sense indicates, however, that the more attenuated the link the more difficult it will be to prove,” said the ruling by the three-judge panel, which has not been previously reported. “This evidence, viewed collectively and taken in the light most favorable to the López appellants, created material issues of fact as to whether Mr. López and his companies were agencies or instrumentalities of the FARC.”

López’s legal problems in the U.S. stem from his 2017 designation as a narcotics kingpin alongside his close friend, Tareck El Aissami, Venezuela’s powerful oil czar. The U.S. at the time accused López of being El Aissami’s frontman to hide proceeds from multi-ton cocaine shipments when he served as interior minister and governor of Aragua state.

The FARC wasn’t mentioned by name when López and El Aissami were sanctioned and the only known criminal charges against the two men is for allegedly chartering private flights in the U.S. in violation of sanctions, not drug trafficking.

At a hearing in February in Miami, López’s attorney, Adam Fels, argued that much of the evidence against his client was hearsay and at a minimum he deserved a trial before his assets were divvied up to victims of a crime that didn’t even take place in Venezuela.

In 2012, a federal judge in Florida awarded Keith Stansell, Marc Gonsalves and Thomas Howes $318 million to be paid from bank accounts and assets seized from individuals linked to the FARC.

But the men had mostly been unable to collect until President Donald Trump signed into law in 2018 the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, which enabled victims of terror groups to attach assets already blocked by the U.S. government under the drug kingpin act.

The three former Northrop Grumman employees were taken captive by guerrillas when their airplane crash landed due to engine trouble during a drug-monitoring flight in 2003. Their pilot, Tom Janis, was killed by the rebels
AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.

Related Articles

US and European Intelligence Agencies Uncover Evidence of Ukrainian Role in Terror Attack on Nord Stream Pipeline
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Hold Power Talks with President Biden in Washington
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
If you donated to BLM, you got played
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Saudi Arabia and Canada Restore Diplomatic Relations
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Last Walmart in North Portland Closing Down
Florida's DeSantis seeks to disqualify judge in Disney case
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Disney has canceled plans to build a new campus in Florida worth almost $1 billion
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
King Charles III being crowned.
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Discuss Migration, Defence, and Ukraine
Tucker Carlson is back, soon!
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
US Congresswoman threaten Twitter Files journalist with arrest
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh slams New York Times' pro-government stance and treatment of sources
Enough is enough: it's time to end the war in Ukraine. While Russia may be to blame for starting it, Russia is not the one refusing to stop it
Fox News Settles their case with Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 MILLION
The land of the free violence