In a legal triumph for businessman Raul Gorrín, a close associate of Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro, a judge in the Southern District of Florida has ruled that two lavish properties in Miami owned by Gorrín cannot be seized as compensation by the family of a victim of Colombian guerrilla kidnapping.
The ruling, issued on Monday by U.S. District Judge Kevin Michael Moore, safeguards a $34 million mansion on Fisher Island and a $14.3 million property on Collins Avenue from the attempts of Antonio Caballero to collect a $140 million settlement (plus interest).
This settlement was awarded due to the death of Caballero’s father at the hands of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) two decades ago.
Caballero asserted that Gorrín and his brother-in-law and business partner, Gustavo Perdomo, had been involved in money laundering for the FARC.
Gorrín is among a small group of Venezuelan businessmen suspected by U.S. officials of amassing significant wealth through their close connections to Maduro and other high-ranking members of the Caracas Socialist regime.
Having been sanctioned by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Gorrín, who is the primary owner of the Venezuelan TV network Globovision, faced charges in a South Florida federal court for his alleged involvement in a billion-dollar corruption and money laundering scheme in Venezuela. He is considered a fugitive by U.S. authorities.
While Caballero accused Gorrin of aiding the FARC, Judge Moore stated in his ruling that Caballero failed to provide supporting evidence for this claim.
The judge determined that there was no factual basis suggesting that Gorrín and Perdomo were laundering money for Maduro or for the benefit of the FARC, as stated by Gorrín’s legal team.
According to the ruling, Caballero did not present evidence about the extent of financial support allegedly provided by Gorrín and Perdomo to the FARC, either directly or indirectly. Caballero also failed to demonstrate how these businessmen assisted the FARC.
“Instead of reinforcing his statements with factual backing, the plaintiff merely references numerous pages in expert reports. However, these expert reports also contain conclusory statements lacking substantial factual foundation,” the ruling states.
Caballero, a resident of the United States, has been facing challenges in collecting the settlement awarded to him in 2014 for his father’s death in 1999 after being abducted by the FARC.
Gorrín has been part of a group of Venezuelan businessmen under investigation by U.S. authorities in Miami since 2016 for purportedly paying millions of dollars in bribes to high-ranking officials in Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA and the national treasury. These payments allegedly granted them access to energy contracts and currency exchanges, resulting in substantial profits.
He is alleged to have played a key role in a $1.2 billion corruption scheme involving loans in bolivars acquired by PDVSA from companies reportedly controlled by Venezuelan businessman Francisco Convit. These loans were promptly repaid by the oil company using a highly favorable and exclusive official exchange rate, yielding substantial profits. This information comes from the indictment introduced by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
However, the primary case against Gorrín revolves around accusations of his involvement in a massive money laundering operation, draining over $1 billion from Venezuela’s government.
This illicit money was allegedly funneled through U.S. banks and invested in luxury real estate in New York and South Florida. These actions were detailed in court documents related to the second case.
This money laundering operation occurred during a time of severe economic hardship for many Venezuelans, who struggled to afford basic necessities like housing and food under the socialist government.