14 July, 2024
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Hugo Chávez’s nurse threatens Blitz to remove news item about her corruption


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Claudia Díaz, nurse of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez attempted to bully Blitz through an individual named Christian Ericsen with the notorious goal of getting a report on Diaz published in this newspaper last year.

In April 2023, BBC in its report said, Claudia Díaz, who Chávez named as Venezuela’s national treasurer, is the latest in a series of Venezuelan ex-top officials to be jailed in the US.

Díaz and her husband had been found guilty of laundering millions of dollars they had received in bribes from a Venezuelan media mogul.

They had both denied the charges and rejected a plea deal.

Claudia Díaz and her husband, Adrián Velásquez, were arrested in 2018 in Spain, where they lived a lavish lifestyle.

She told BBC News Mundo in an interview [in Spanish] in 2018 that their riches were earned by her husband through businesses he had even before the couple had met. But a court in Florida found the couple had accepted and laundered millions of dollars in bribes from Venezuelan media mogul Raúl Gorrín during Díaz’s time at the helm of Venezuela’s treasury from 2011 until 2013.

In exchange for the bribes, Díaz allowed Raúl Gorrín to buy US dollars at a cheaper rate from the treasury which he then resold on the black market at a huge profit, the court found. The media tycoon, who owns Globovisión news network, has also been charged with corruption and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed him on its “most wanted” list.

The 15-year-sentence imposed on Claudia Díaz and her husband, who was President Chávez’s head of security, is one of the longest handed down by a US court against corrupt Venezuelan ex-officials.

The judge said that the couple had “made a lot of money” and “drastically changed their life” with their ill-gotten gains.

Diaz’s career in particular was meteoric. A Navy sergeant, she was part of the president’s guard of honor before joining the team that nursed Hugo Chávez when he had cancer.

Despite having no background in finance, Chávez named her national treasurer, a job she held from 2011 until the president’s death in 2013.

Born in the Andean city of San Cristobal in 1973, Claudia Díaz trained as a nurse at a military school, obtaining both a nursing degree and a rank as an officer. After several stints at hospitals and clinics, she was hired in 2002 to work at the Miraflores presidential palace under Carmen Meléndez, a powerful woman who is now the mayor of the largest district of Caracas.

On June 19, 2024, this newspaper received an email from an individual stating:

Dear Sir or Madam
My name is Christian Ericsen. I’m bothering you to request the cancellation of the post: https://weeklyblitz.net/2023/08/29/hugo-chavez-nurse-secretly-stashes-gold-bars-in-europe.

Our reasons for the request are:
The article is irrelevant.
Any type of prosecution or conviction was dismissed
The subject of the article is not a public figure professional and common reputation is still been wrecked as by the inappropriate style of the article so as by the content of it which has nothing common with the reality at the moment.

It further said:

I’m representing interest Ronnie Budja with articles on internet resources.

I’m from Balkanian country from ripoffremoval [Ripoff Report Removal] and i ask you to remove this article from your site. I know who is Hugo Chavez and how he is authocracy damaged all of Venezuela.

Our team of investigative journalists have found, sender of the email has used a fake name, while it is well-anticipated that these emails might have been sent by Ronnie Budja, or even by other accomplices of Claudia Díaz and her husband Adrián Velásquez namely José Alcántara de la Torre.

Our reporters have also found details about Ripoff Report Removal on its website, which claims to be “affordable reputation management” company. There is no contact address on this website, except a Gmail address. This entity is run by an individual named Mike Munter.

On the website, Mike Munter wrote, “I launched this website in 2013 to service individuals and business owners looking for quality, results-based reputation management services, without busting the bank”.

This website gives details of how they “suppress” or get articles removed from Google stating, “We offer affordable removal & suppression services for negative articles on news websites, online newspapers, and blogs. This includes our service to remove negative news stories from Google”.

He further wrote, “When you contact the big players in the ORM space, you usually wind up talking to a sales person – someone who is not on the front lines, in the trenches doing the work. Their mission is to sell you, not to truly understand what your specific problem is and how to best address it.

When you contact us, you’ll be talking to me or one of my partners who specialize in getting results every day”.

It means, the person who sent email pretending as Christian Ericsen actually is Mike Munter, as according to our understanding, ‘Ripoff Report Removal’ is a one-man show.

Mike Muntar’s reputation management company has an YouTube channel alongside accounts on other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook and Printerest. According to its Facebook page, Mike Munter runs his activities from 9020 N Tyler Ave, Portland, Oregon, OR, United States. His phone number is: +1 503-890-6663.

According to a report titled ‘Rampant use of Tumblr site for filing false copyright claims with Google under DMCA’, published in Blitz on February 4, 2024, various entities, including organized crime rackets, criminals, scammers, fraudsters and even members of terrorist groups are randomly taking services of ‘Reputation Management’ firms in getting existing content links from Google search engine removed by filing false copyright claim under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), while these firms use Tumblr for creating back-dated posts on this site for their attempted copyright claims. Everyday, hundreds of such false copyright claims are being filed with Google by ‘Reputation Management’ firms thus dodging algorithms or Google’s bots by presenting fake references to back-dated Tumblr posts.

It may be mentioned here that, on April 29, 2023, Blitz published a report titled ‘Hugo Chávez nurse secretly stashes gold bars in Europe’ giving details of how Claudia Díaz, once a nurse to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, found herself embroiled in controversy as she ascended to a position overseeing the nation’s treasury.

According to the report, which is based on information obtained from OCCRP, Claudia Díaz has been serving a term in a US prison for money laundering, investigators in Europe are delving into her hidden wealth. However, it appears she wasn’t acting alone.

Ronnie Budja and José Alcántara de la Torre, despite their differing backgrounds, share a covert link. Budja, aged 41, is a Swiss banker with a penchant for skiing and a residence in Monaco, while Alcántara de la Torre, aged 43 and originally from Venezuela, holds a Cypriot passport, resides in Paris, and holds a role in an acquisitions committee for London’s Tate Modern museum.

These two seemingly unrelated men are connected through a document revealed by Liechtenstein prosecutors, granting them permission to remove numerous gold bars from a concealed vault. European authorities are now investigating these bars, suspecting them to be part of a money laundering operation conducted by a former high-ranking Venezuelan official – the individual in charge of the national treasury under President Hugo Chávez.

Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén, who previously worked as a nurse, quickly climbed the ranks from taking the president’s temperature to managing billions of dollars in state funds. Though she stepped down after Chávez’s death in 2013, it later emerged that she was one of many elite Venezuelans who amassed fortunes while depleting the country’s wealth.

Earlier this year, Díaz and her husband received a 15-year prison sentence from a US federal judge for accepting and laundering over US$136 million in bribes from a media mogul. The bribes were given in exchange for preferential access to bonds from the Venezuelan treasury. Despite the conviction, more of her wealth remains undisclosed.

The origins of Díaz’s amassed fortune remain shrouded in mystery, but European investigators believe that a portion was funneled into a Liechtenstein vault. Allegedly, an offshore company connected to Díaz purchased 250 gold bars worth US$9.5 million in 2014 and 2015. Subsequently, the gold was gradually sold between 2018 and 2019.

While Díaz and her husband’s prosecution unveiled a part of the story, more information surfaced from a sentencing memo, indicating they were “additionally in control” of significant assets overseas.

The Liechtenstein investigation, initially reported by the Associated Press, sheds light on previously unknown associates – Ronnie Budja and José Alcántara de la Torre. Documents obtained by prosecutors suggest that Budja played a pivotal role in managing the gold.

These two individuals, living privileged lives in Europe, are yet to be charged. However, their involvement in aiding Díaz’s alleged money laundering endeavors highlights the crucial roles played by accomplices in facilitating corrupt officials’ schemes.

As of now, there is no comment from Budja’s lawyers, while requests for Alcántara de la Torre’s input remain unanswered. Díaz’s lawyers also have not provided a response. The investigation into Díaz and her associates remains ongoing, with more information expected to emerge.

There have also been several reports in the international media including Associated Press giving details of prevailing corruption in Venezuela.

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