The former national treasurer of Venezuela, Claudia Guillén, and her husband, Adrián Figueroa, were both sentenced this Wednesday in the United States to 15 years in prison, plus three years on parole, for money laundering, reported EFE.
Claudia Patricia Díaz Guillén and Adrián José Velásquez Figueroa were also sentenced to pay back 136 million dollars (about 124 million euros) and pay a fine of 75 thousand dollars (about 68 thousand euros) each, decided judge William Dimitrouleas in the Miami courthouse.
Prosecutors had asked for prison sentences of no less than 23 years and five months in prison for Clauida Guillén and 19 years and five months for her husband.
Dimitrouleas, after listening to the parties for an hour, declared that he “understood the family circumstances of the convicted men” – fathers of two children – but that, in his assessment, they had created “a sophisticated money laundering scheme” that made them deserving of the sentence.
The couple, each of them accompanied by their lawyer, received the sentence in a court in downtown Miami, where they had arrived handcuffed, and the court session had simultaneous translation.
Both Venezuelan citizens were extradited from Spain, where they also have citizenship, in 2022 and in December of that year they were tried for money laundering.
Claudia Díaz Guillén and Velásquez Figueroa were close figures of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, being commonly known as the late president’s “nurse” and “bodyguard” in 2013, having both settled in Spain in 2016.
US prosecutors accused him of having made a fortune of US$136 million with a network of corruption that took advantage of his time as national treasurer (2011-2013) to benefit from the exchange control system in force in Venezuela at the time.
Claudia Díaz Guillén’s lawyer, Marissel Descalzo, intervened in court to say that the 136 million dollars were in no way “stolen from the people of Venezuela”.
Velasquez Figueroa’s lawyer, the American Andrew Feldman, claimed for his part that the laws of the USA were never violated, claiming that his client made bank transfers between countries “without violating the law”.
The defense now has 14 days to appeal the verdict.