|The scandal over the US$28 million in bonds a former Dominican general was allegedly going to cash in at Venezuela’s Central Bank accompanied by two Dominican diplomats was advance payment for lands in Oviedo, southwest Pedernales Province, which Colombian investors bought from Puro Pichardo, one of the main players in the land-grabbing scandal at Bahia de las Aguilas in the Hipolito Mejia Presidency.
Pichardo, along with Fernando Rodríguez de Marchena, who died under mysterious circumstances while being held in the penitentiary La Victoria, tried to sells the lands which are part of the Jaragua National Park, but the ensuing backlash from the scandal halted the fraudulent operation.
But at the start of his term in 2000, president Hipolito Mejía signed decree 273-01 on February 23, 2001, declaring the lands eminent domain, once again allowing Pichardo and others to sell the properties, which had been assigned to the Agrarian Institute to distribute to poor farmers in the early 1990s despite the area’s desert like conditions and lack of water sources.
But the land merchant, quoted on Thursday by news source diariolibre.com, denied trying to cash the bonds in Caracas. "I paid their expenses so they went to Venezuela to find out if they are good or bad."
He said for the task verification he authorized the ex general Jose Eliseo Noble Espejo, who was accompanied by two members of the Dominican Embassy, to expedite the process, but Dominican ambassador in Venezuela Jaime Durán affirms that he acted on a request in November to help verify the bonds’ validity before the Venezuelan authorities.
The diplomat said he designated the two officials to accompany Noble before the authorities “to maintain the continuity and the level of the process.
Meanwhile Pichardo, in order to sustain his allegation, sent diariolibre.com copies of the documents authorizing the bank transaction his name He said he sold the lands, 10 million square meters with tourism potential in Oviedo, to Colombian investors, for US$40 million, but didn’t reveal their names. He said his lawyers are working on the situation of the bonds seized in Caracas and affirmed that the current transaction has no relation with the previous scandal, because the lands are 40 kilometers away from Bahia de Las Aguilas.
See related article in Spanish