Cablegate: Argentine Prosecutors Seek to Travel to the U.S.
DE RUEHBU #0646 1361826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151826Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1039
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000646
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KJUS PREL SNAR KCOR VZ AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE PROSECUTORS SEEK TO TRAVEL TO THE U.S.
IN SEARCH OF VALIJAGATE EVIDENCE
REF: BUENOS AIRES 462 AND PREVIOUS
1. (SBU) Summary: Argentine press indicates local
prosecutors are looking to travel to the U.S. to gather
evidence for their investigation into the infamous Venezuelan
suitcase with US$800,000 seized by GOA officials in August
2007. Articles published in La Nacion on May 11 and 12
provide new information on connections among the passengers
on the private plane which carried the suitcase and its
protagonists, but did not elicit much reaction. End summary.
2. (U) According to press reports, Attorney General Esteban
Righi is considering a request by the two Argentine
prosecutors in the case against two Venezuelans connected to
the suitcase investigation, the father and son Uzcategui
(reftels), to send their staff to Venezuela and the United
States to collect information about the case. Uzcategui
senior was PDVSA's senior representative in Argentina and his
son was a passenger on the plane along with Antonini-Wilson
which brought the suitcase to Buenos Aires. The prosecutors'
stated objective is to obtain copies of the evidence
collected in Miami and Caracas. The Uzcateguis are scheduled
to testify on May 28th in Argentina; they have postponed
their trial date multiple times.
3. (SBU) The Embassy notes that Argentine Public Ministry has
not reached out to Legatt to coordinate the visit reportedly
requested by their prosecutors. Such a visit would normally
be coordinated by the Argentine Embassy in Washington with
DOJ and/or the FBI, but post is not aware of any contact.
The GOA separately transmitted requests for Antoni-Wilson,s
extradition and for evidence pursuant to the Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaty (MLAT). To the best of post's knowledge,
both requests have gone unanswered because of pending
prosecutions in Miami.
4. (U) Newspaper of record "La Nacion" published a two-part
series May 11-12 revealing that the infamous suitcase was
brought to the Caracas airport on August 3, 2007, by the
President of PDVSA's bodyguard Reiter Ramirez. Ramirez
reportedly works for PDVSA's Loss Control and Prevention
(PCP) department, the security branch that allegedly conducts
internal espionage, protects physical infrastructure, and
diverts funds. Wilmer Barrientos was reportedly head of PCP
from 2003 until October 2007. In this position, Barrientos
had been the BRV's head of security for the South American
Energy Summit held in Venezuela's in April 2007. The
articles also report on several social gatherings among
several of the plane's passengers in Caracas.
5. (SBU) Although the valijagate "expose" made the front
page of La Nacion's Sunday (May 11) edition, it did not
elicit much comment or reaction. Likewise, the prosecutors'
proposed trip to the United States is at once an
acknowledgement that they are not seriously pursuing
potentially more productive lines of inquiry domestically
(some of the passengers on the plane that brought Antonini
Wilson to Argentina remain here in Buenos Aires) and that the
Argentine judicial "investigation" is settling into the
routine of procedural dodges and dilatory maneuvers.