Spain to extradite Chávez’s ex-security chief to US

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s National Court decided Wednesday to extradite the former security chief of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to the United States to face charges of money laundering and belonging to a criminal organization involved in bribes of hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to the American extradition request, Adrián Velásquez allegedly received the bribes together with his wife Claudia Díaz, Venezuela’s former treasurer, from businessman Raúl Gorrín.

In exchange for the money, Díaz allegedly secured Gorrín the rights to exchange more than a billion dollars in foreign currencies in the U.S. on behalf of the Venezuelan government between 2011-2017. US prosecutors say those operations provided them with profits of hundreds of millions of dollars, which went to Velásquez and Díaz and officials close to Chávez.

The couple allegedly transferred the assets from tax havens in the Caribbean to vaults in Liechtenstein where they kept the money in gold bars.

Díaz’s extradition from Spain to the U.S. was approved in October.

The couple enjoyed a rapid rise to power under Chávez. Díaz, who initially worked as a nurse for Chávez, ended up becoming Venezuela’s national treasurer. Velásquez, a captain in the army, became Chávez’s security chief.

Velásquez and Díaz recently received Spanish nationality, but Spain’s National Court ruled that that could not stop the extradition process.

Gorrín is in Venezuela.