Guatemala bank raid, probe target Venezuelan's account

AP News
Posted: Apr 08, 2016 7:57 PM
Guatemala bank raid, probe target Venezuelan's account

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan prosecutors raided the offices of a bank and froze some $20 million worth of the bank's shares on Friday as part of a money-laundering probe involving a Venezuelan man.

The search at Banco de los Trabajadores targeted documents related to the holdings of Hidalgo Rafael Socorro Urdaneta, a Venezuelan said to be the legal representative of DHK Finance INC Panama. The firm was established in October 2011 in Panama City.

Guatemalan prosecutors said the case is not related to this week's "Panama Papers" leak of documents related to offshore holdings.

Judge Marco Villeda told The Associated Press that the complaint presented by prosecutors was based on "strong indications that the money could have come from illicit acts."

Alejandro Arevalo, the head of the country's banking regulatory office, said "a foreign investor" had bought the shares, equal to about 9 percent of the bank's working capital, in May 2013.

He said the temporary freezing of the bank shares was a "precautionary" measure carried out because "there are indications of a crime."

Arevalo said "the bank continues functioning. This does not affect the (bank's) liquidity, stability, or operations."

Banco de los Trabajadores said in a news release that it respects Guatemalan law and will cooperate with authorities in any investigation.