BANINVEST - Arne Chacon Escamillo

07/04/09 | Last week, two local banks owned by the same person, Helm Bank and Banco Real, were sold to investment bank Baninvest. Baninvest already paid for the two banks and while payment has been made, it has not been possible thus far to confirm the price suggested by Descifrado of five times book value.

If Descifrado is correct, and in the end this is almost indifferent to the story here, from the Dec-08 financial statements of the two banks, which you can get here, it could be argued that the payment was roughly US$ 100 million.

Baninvest is owned in part by Arne Chacon Escamillo, who is the brother of Jesse Chacon Escamillo, one of Hugo Chavez's ministers and closest collaborators.

When Arne Chacon Escamillo first bought a stake in Baninvest, the Superintendent of Banks (SUDEBAN) was asked about it and said that checks on the origin of the funds for the purchase would be done. Alas source of the funds was never determined nor did SUDEBAN established whether purchase was made in observance to regulations.

Arne Chacon Escamillo's career has been truly meteoric. Arne was a a Lieutenant who participated in the 1992 coup attempt. Interesting reports about his activities can be read here, here, here and here. As recently as 2002, Arne was a lowly employee of the Venezuelan Tax Office, but somehow managed since then to become a banker and is now about to own three of them. In the meantime, he made an offer of US$ 10 million for a Venezuelan subsidiary of PARMALAT, which never materialized. Arne is quite the businessman nowadays, a true representative of the "Bolibourgeoise", the claque of chavistas that have become phenomenally wealthy and powerful thanks to Hugo Chavez's lenient attitude towards corruption.

Needless to say that Arne being the brother of Jesse Chacon, nobody asks anything, least of all the Comptroller, who so diligently investigates cases involving the opposition. Here are Arne's record of social security contributions, from the Social Security Office’s page:

As can be seen Arne has gone from contributing very little, in 1995-2003, nothing in 2004 and then jumping in 2005 to contribute Bs. 36,000 in 2008, which implies that his basic salary is now about Bs. 300,000 per year as President of Baninvest (contributions are calculated on basic salary, not bonuses, profit sharing and the like)

Not a bad career for Jesse’s brother. Now he has bought two more banks, which while small, are both bigger than Baninvest. Arne’s rise, given the position of his brother and the fact that he has partnered with Wilmer Ruperti, simply evidences this era of the pilfering of Venezuela by friends of Hugo Chavez. But, much like other cases, like the purchase of Banco Bolivar, Banpro and Confederado by a single chavista individual, no authority is going to look into it with the interest and diligence that the Rosales, Baduel and Lopez cases have had. Unless, of course, the Chacon brothers somehow become disloyal to Hugo Chavez, in which case they may get the Baduel treatment: jailed and sent to the same place where they are sending their enemies.

This is why everyone calls Chavez's the Bolivarian Robolution. Fortunately, "Boliburgueses" are never too far from the long arm of international justice, in this era of global financial scams and scandals.