Venezuela: Thai asphalt giant implicated in Venezuela sanctions case

A major Thai asphalt company has been implicated for money laundering in a criminal complaint against a Miami businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions for doing maintenance work on Venezuela’s fleet of Russian fighter jets.

Jorge Nobrega was arrested Sunday at Miami’s international airport, according to his attorney, Francisco Alfonso Marty, who said it was premature to comment further.

A criminal complaint and affidavit filed Monday in Miami federal court allege that Nobrega’s company, Achabal Technologies, sold to Venezuela’s military a suppressant foam to insulate fuel tanks on its Sukhoi combat aircraft from exploding under enemy gunfire.

In a recorded meeting with an unidentified informant, Nobrega allegedly bragged about meeting with Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and likened the technique to a form of “dialysis” that would save Venezuela the expense of sending the fleet in Russia for servicing.

For his work, Nobrega’s Miami-based company allegedly was paid by Tipco Asphalt, a longtime client of Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA

An Associated Press investigation last year revealed how Venezuela had been relying on the publicly traded Tipco to blunt the impact of U.S. sanctions. In exchange for deep discounts on crude shipments, Tipco would pay PDVSA’s obligations and deduct the amounts from what it owed the Venezuelan oil giant, according to records obtained by AP.

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