Estimating Daniel Ortega’s Fortune

The Bancorp trust is valued at: US $2.5 billion dollars! That is the “base” of Ortega’s fortune. Just the base.

The Bancorp trust is valued at: US $2.5 billion dollars! That is the “base” of Ortega’s fortune. Just the base.

18 de febrero 2019


Authorities of the United States Government announced that the sanctions imposed on the company “Petroleos de Venezuela” (Petroleum of Venezuela), PDVSA, also reach the affiliate company Albanisa and the “Banco Corporativo” (Bancorp) in Nicaragua.

Let’s start with Albanisa. This company was constituted as a fraudulent subterfuge to privatize, in favor of Ortega, the funds of the Venezuelan oil cooperation. The funds were channeled as an operation between two private companies, although they have their origin in an international agreement, ratified by the legislative assemblies of Nicaragua and Venezuela.

It was the biggest privatization in the economic history of Nicaragua, with the aggravating circumstance that it was openly fraudulent.

Albanisa, constituted as a private commercial company, has two partners: PDVSA, with 51%, and Petronic, with 49%. According to official data of the Central Bank. The total amount of credits channeled through Albanisa, as of June 2018, is close to 4 billion dollars. In times of the fat cows (good times) they averaged 500 million dollars per year, no strings attached. A liquid capital that Ortega managed to his discretion, as private capital.

What Central American, or even Latin American, company obtains profits of such a magnitude?

Additionally, the Central Bank statistics shows that 1 billion dollars were channeled as “foreign investments,” basically for electricity generation and for the famous refinery: “The supreme dream of Bolivar.”

With such a fortune and with the sponsorship and advantage of political power, Albanisa ventured into a wide range of businesses. According to a report published by Confidencial, these companies include: “Albageneración,” which soon became the main electric power generation company. And the one that charges the highest prices. “Albadepositos”, dedicated to the import, storage and distribution of oil and its derivatives. “Albaforestal,” whose business is wood. “Albaequipos” (Econsa), service and construction company. DNP, fuel distribution Company. Even a surveillance company appears in the extensive list.

Occupying a prominent place in the transfer was (the savings and loan cooperative) Caruna, which served as recipient and pivot of much of the funds. And, the crown jewel: the “Banco Corporativo” (Bancorp, Corporative Bank).

When the threat of US sanctions appeared on the horizon, the legal and financial operators of the regime, with the support of the Supreme Court — which transformed the Public Registry clandestinely— ran to create new societies and companies to transpose, novate, transfer, and other legal subterfuge, in order to evade possible sanctions.

But the biggest bulk will be most difficult to hide.

For example, Albageneracion, is the main energy seller to the energy distribution companies Disnorte and Dissur. It is suspected, with reason, that TSK, the parent company of these companies is only a façade that covers the interests of Albanisa. But, let’s suppose that it is not like that. Under these conditions, TSK falls under the orbit of the sanctions decreed by the US government.

We know that the project of the refinery “The Supreme Dream of Bolivar” was reduced to a hydrocarbons storage system, based in Puerto Sandino. What will the companies that use this storage system do? Will they expose themselves to being punished?

It is obvious that each of these companies, subsidiaries of Albanisa, has commercial links with dozens of companies of different sizes, of national and foreign capital: exporters, importers, suppliers, buyers, stock exchanges, service providers. Companies that have nothing to do with the turbid businesses of the regime, but now the danger of being infected is just around the corner.

What will these companies do to get out of the orbit of the sanctions US imposed sanctions?

The banks had already taken some measures with the Albanisa funds. Now they will have to broaden their preventive measures.

The other bulky case is Bancorp. Last year an audit conducted by the US firm Grant Thornton circulated widely. That audit, which has also been cited by some media, states that Caruna delivered its assets to Bancorp using the figure of trust. A trust is a contract by virtue of which the owner of a patrimony, or a group of assets, entrusts to another legal entity the administration of that patrimony, for a determined period of time, under certain conditions. So that we have an idea, it is something like the executors, in the case of inheritances.

It is not about bank deposits. In the aforementioned audit they are called “Off balance sheet items.” For that reason, with the complicity, before and now, of the Superintendency of Banks, those funds do not appear in their reports.

But well, the amount of that trust gives us an idea of Ortega’s fortune.

Do you know how much that trust is valued? On page 58 of the audit report, the equivalent stated is: US $2.5 billion dollars!

That is the “base” of Ortega’s fortune. Just the base.

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Enrique Sáenz

Economista y abogado nicaragüense. Aficionado a la historia. Bloguero y conductor de la plataforma de comunicación #VamosAlPunto


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