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Lawyer admits coverup of $800K
The cash was seized in Buenos Aires.
Published January 26, 2008
MIAMI - A Venezuelan lawyer pleaded guilty Friday in a scheme to cover up the source of $800,000 in cash that U.S. prosecutors say was intended as a campaign contribution from the Venezuelan government to Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Moises Maionica, 36, admitted acting as an unregistered foreign government agent in the United States. He could be sentenced to up to 15 years for this and a related conspiracy count, but could get a shorter sentence for cooperating with prosecutors. U.S. officials said Maionica and four others tried to hide the source of the cash, which was carried into Argentina on Aug. 4 by dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen Guido Antonini Wilson, now wanted by Argentina on money laundering charges.
Antonini cooperated with U.S. investigators and wore a recording device as the others met with him in Florida and allegedly pressured him to keep quiet about the money's source, according to court documents.
He was a passenger on a chartered plane that carried officials from Venezuela's state oil company, and an unidentified passenger asked Antonini to carry the cash-filled suitcase through customs in Buenos Aires, where it was seized.
The other suspects include Venezuelans Carlos Kauffmann, 35, and Franklin Duran, 40, and Uruguayan Rodolfo Wanseele, 40. All have pleaded not guilty. Another Venezuelan man charged in the case, Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez, has not been found.