A Swiss financial intelligence operation intended to hunt down American tax evaders has discovered the existence of a series of coded accounts of members of the Colombian mafia. The deposits, which add up to at least US$30 million are in foreign accounts, were originally opened in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Panama.
The accounts have remained dormant since the 1980s. Some depositors were killed, and survivors have probably left the money untouched for fear of being asked about the origins of the funds, reports magazine Semana.
A recurring name in the opening and co-signing of some of the accounts is that of former personal adviser to President Alvaro Uribe and cousin to Pablo Escobar, Jose Obdulio Gaviria.
His brother, Carlos Alberto Gaviria, was discovered to be the holder of two Colombian bank accounts used by those that paid for the assassination of Guillermo Cano, an investigation by newspaper El Espectador revealed some time ago. Cano was editor of the newspaper and was murdered in 1986 for his denunciations of the influence of drug traffickers in Colombian politics.
International investigators have so far discovered a number of international bank accounts for former members of the Medellin cartel. In three of the accounts discovered, Carlos Alberto Gaviria Velez is listed as owner and beneficiary of the funds. The first, a Credit Lyonnais account, contains funds equivalent to US$1,658,894. The second account, with the Banque Generale de Luxembourg, contains US$2,037,400 and mentions a company called Venture Galex and Carlos Alberto Gaviria Velez as holders. Gaviria Velez is identified as No. 8271876, the same number of brother Jose Obdulio’s identity card.
The third account, with Swiss bank UBS, maintains a balance of US$1,037,000. Their owners are listed as Carlos Alberto Gaviria Velez and Jesus Maria Rivero García. This name corresponds to a false identity used by Riveros Gustavo de Jesus Gaviria, one of Pablo Escobar‘s lieutenants. In 1990, when he was killed by police, officers found among his papers a counterfeit card in the name of Jesus Maria Rivero García.
Carlos Alberto Velez Gaviria told El Espectador that he and his brothers never had anything to do with their mobster cousins. However, all this evidence would contradict that.
Semana reports on the existence of a photograph of the disappeared capo Gustavo de Jesus Gaviria in Luxembourg in 1986, seated next to an as-yet unidentified companion whose identity may be able to help prosecute Carlos Alberto Gaviria.
A further 22 Colombians are listed as owners of million-dollar accounts, some of them relatives of Gustavo de Jesus Gaviria.
Now Switzerland and the U.S. will begin to fight it out for the secret cash stashes of the Medellin cartel, which could lead to extradition requests for those involved. For now, Colombia has not expressed interest in recovering the money.