By April 11, the date on which the fair play would be broken was set or, rather, political cannibalism between Chile’s candidates Vamos and their surroundings would begin, in view of the presidential election of November 21. Long before this announcement, an elaborate political operation, with Chilean and Latin American ties, had begun to «kill» the candidacy of the RN flag bearer, prior to his anointing as a presidency in the General Council of that party.
Five days after the PRI decided to proclaim Desbordes as its presidential letter and two weeks before the aforementioned RN General Council was held, various Chilean media and journalists began receiving, on January 4, through their social networks and private messaging chat, the link of outrageous news that had been published that same day on the First Report portal , an electronic diary based in Miami, with a clear anti-catalytic, anti-hard and anti-Castro tendency.
Under the title «The Secret Accounts of Chilean Politics», Venezuelan journalist and far-right activist Casto Ocando produced a memorized report in which he disclosed the existence of bank accounts in tax havens of 12 Chilean politicians. The destination of the offshore accounts were Luxembourg, Cayman Islands, Zurich, New York, New Zealand, Monaco, Miami, Gibraltar and Trinidad and Tobago.
While the list included deputies and senators such as Carmen Hertz and Guido Girardi, and close collaborators from Michelle Bachelet’s last government and even her controversial son, Sebastián Dávalos, Desbordes’ mere inclusion in that list of «Chilean socialism» set all alarms on, because it was anticipated as an «Operation San Lorenzo 3.0», alluding to the political operation , developed from within the UDI, to lower Laurence Golborne from the presidential race, following the leak of bank accounts in the Virgin Islands.
Alongside Desbordes, another presidential candidate, former chancellor Heraldo Muñoz, was included in the list today as the PPD’s presidency. The publication was particularly complex for Muñoz, because he was credited with one of these secret accounts in New York situation that put in check his diplomatic credentials in the United States, since being a Politically Exposed Person, his case would enter the Patriot Act of 2001 of that country, which in section 312, states that all figures relevant to politics in other countries with accounts in American banks must be monitored and reported. With news spread in the United States any control of Muñoz in that country could have led to a media scandal of proportions capable of failing his presidential intent.
Like any bulo, or fake news, whose purpose is to become post-truth, where the veracity of the information no longer matters, as long as it is credible, the report in question was republished a month later, on February 7, but this time in the newspaper El Nacional de Caracas. As in the first time, the report reached the accounts of Chilean journalists with the intention of being replicated in the country. The outreach was accompanied by an extensive network viralization campaign, through accounts linked to GOP activists and close to the UDI.
Fake accounts and inconsistencies in the case of Overflows
Mario Desbordes – who after the first publication received calls from Venezuelan politicians dissidents of Maduro, to warn him of the dangers of the operation against him – is credited with accounts at Pacific Private Bank on Vanuatu Island; Frakfurt Deka Private Banking: and Mauritius Commercial Bank of the Seychelles Islands.
But as Luis Masferrer, former director of the National Intelligence Agency, and mario Desbordes’ lawyer in his criminal complaint in the Public Prosecutor’s Office for crimes of falsification of private instrument, usurpation of name or other that arises during the investigation into publications in both Miami and Caracas, the alleged accounts have inconsistencies for the amounts attributable. Unlike what appears to be seen with the naked eye, the amounts of the accounts are not expressed in dollars or euros (as is that of other politicians referred to in the report), but in national currency. For example, at Frakfurt’s Deka Private Banking- a prestigious bank in Germany- Desbordes haswould give you a balance of just under $9 million. And the same in the other accounts, with balance sheets less than 10 million pesos.
«With absolute clarity and total conviction I declare this to be false news,» Masferrer says. «Mario Desbordes is the first interested party to investigate these facts and to come to light the truth in this case.»
«The proof of whiteness in favor of Desbordes is reflected in its decision to authorize the Public Prosecutor’s Office to lift bank secrecy on the alleged current accounts, investments, companies that refer to the note and would be abroad, as well as to authorize banks in Chile to be required to provide information on transfers, investments or operation with international banks for the past ten years.
In charge of the ruc 2100175322-0 investigation, the high complexity prosecutor of the eastern metropolitan area, Felipe Sepúlveda, remained.
The footprints of the «friendly fire» and Operation San Lorenzo
Mario Desb0rdes is certainly facing a «thick caliber» political operation and is willing to go all the way to clear the plot. Especially the Chilean plot. «I’ve been told this note is paid, and from Chile, what we’re looking to confirm,» he says.
Pending the progress he made in this area, the RN presidential candidate made a complaint to the Media Ethics Council against El Líbero, the only means that echoed the publication in Miami, in which to support the supposed veracity of the accounts, he presents the curriculum of its author, Casto Ocando».
«We’re on the right track. There are traces to some Chilean political actors. Now it’s a matter of evidence. That in addition to the legal actions I hope will advance in a good investigation,» adds Desbordes, who argues that sooner rather than later he will find the traceability of what he assumes, he is friendly fire. «It’s most likely. Those who circulated it, who disseminated it, even an electronic newspaper that made sure it had grandstands in Chile, are from my own political sector.»
Regardless of whether there are differences with Operation San Lorenzo, the name by which the press christened the plot to lower Laurence Golborne from the presidential race, Desbordes find similarities in purpose: to do political damage, independent of which data is false as in his case, or that in these there is total absence of crimes, as in the case of the former Minister of Mining , by Piñera 1.
And not only Overflows, so does Golborne. «In situations like this, when accusations appear, many people do not listen to explanations and political damage is done immediately. We are very good at prejudge, especially when it comes to money. The explanations were obvious: I was in the accounting of my companies, declared before the SII, the money is absolutely traceable, etc. But in polyic it doesn’t matter and few people listen to the explanations. Your opponents take advantage of that immediately. It’s very hard to know who’s doing an operation like this, but today with social media it’s easy to do so: you only spread a rumor and people are in charge of spreading it.»
«In the case of Mario, he is a former Deputy of the Republic (and former minister), who has an obligation to declare his estate, so if he were in breach of that obligation, complaints should be made in court with concrete evidence, not just publishing an article. Political damage is what is sought,» he argues.
Complaints in the Trade Commission of Heraldo Muñoz
As a diplomat and former chancellor, the PPD’s persidencial letter – which in ocando’s articles are credited with $17.5 million in banks in Gibraltar, New York, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland, England and the British Virgin Islands – made immediate efforts in the United States to clear any doubts about the absence of such bank accounts, as well as denouncing criminal conduct in the event that such accounts have actually been opened in international banks.
«In front of the article with false information, we filed a complaint based on the details listed in the report in question with the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, against the two companies that allegedly and falsely used my name on legalized documents, denouncing criminal conduct on the part of those companies for identity theft and forgery of official documents» Designates.
Following this management, we contacted Wells Fargo Bank, mentioned in the article, and it convened a meeting of the Fraud Commission to discuss the matter. «In your opinion the account is «bogus» (false). That’s why we demanded that if they were to find any account in my name, they must close it immediately because it is fraudulent illegal.»
The next step was to contact the New York State Department of Records regarding a document that appears in the article, and bears the state seal. «They told us that there is no such document in their records,» he adds.
«We contacted the law firm where the individual who would have signed the Power of Attorney in the article works. The signature on the document is not the lawyer in question. Moreover, that lawyer was not even associated with that firm on the date indicated in the document (2011). We contacted the lawyer at Baronet Development to inform her that we have reported to the company for identity theft and to demand the original of the Power and any other documents where my name may appear.»
According to the article of the Venezuelan journalist, Muñoz also appears to sign a legal power of law authorizing him as legal representative of Baronet Development LLC, on behalf of which are the accounts at Lloyd Bank in London, and credit suisse S.A., Switzerland.
«After contacting the company, we were informed that this company joined New York in 2016. That is, five years after the alleged issuance of the Power in question. In other words, this company did not exist in New York State at the time of the so-called Power.» But not in accordance with this, Muñoz contacted credit suisse bank, sending a copy of the article with the journalist’s details and the copy of the Counterfeit Power with credit suisse’s stamp, in which he demanded an investigation and the immediate closure of the fraudulent account in question of Baronet Development LLC, in the case that such account existed.
Muñoz also filed a phishing complaint with Lloyd’s Bank of London regarding an alleged second account of Baronet Development LLC.
The article published in Miami and then Caracas names a corporate account of Heraldo Muñoz on behalf of Edge Hill Holdings Limited, registered in New Zealand, at First Bank Virgin Island in the British Virgin Islands, opened in April 2013. The account – according to the article – has a balance sheet of $2.4 million.
«Edge Hill Holdings – which appears in the electronic media article El Nacional se Caracas – joined New Zealand on 25 May 1998 and closed for insolvency on November 10, 2003. That is, it did not exist in 2013, the year the First Bank Virgin Islands account was supposed to be opened.
Outside of these efforts, former Chancellor Michelle Bachelet contacted a U.S. organization dedicated to investigating criminal conduct by multinational companies to uncover the impersonation and forgery of documents.»
Casto Ocando, the «pot shipowner»
He has worked for more than 20 years in Hispanic media in the United States and Venezuela, following in the footsteps of corruption and drug trafficking. Crimes that often intersect and from where Casto Ocando has focused by zooming in on the «boliburgues», a group of Venezuelan officials and businessmen who made up huge fortunes under Hugo Chavez’s regime and until now they tend to waste money in Miami’s most expensive stores.
Precisely that theme, the boliburguesia (Bolivarians and bourgeois) earned Casto Ocando and two other Journalists of Univision an Emmy for the coverage made to that caste that managed to establish clientery relations, through chavista power. This has been the «front» on which this Venezuelan journalist has mainly developed, who departed in the 1990s as a reporter for the newspaper El Universal de Caracas and the Venezuelan political weekly Quinto Día.
In his CV he also highlights having reported for the New Herald and is currently the editor of the news and reporting portal, First Report, covering scandals, mainly of corruption of the countries of the region, preferably Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.
In most televised interviews, Casto Ocando is presenting as a member of the ICIJ International Investigative Journalism Consortium, however, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pfV2DDjbkE according to records of that body he is not listed as a member journalist and it is only four professionals from that country who are https://www.icij.org/journalists/
Ocando is recognized in Venezuela and Miami for his anti-Castro reports and against the Maduro regime. From that American city he has developed a series of articles that account for Maduro’s Colombian testaferro, Alex Saab; of the «lucrative business» of illegal immigration of Venezuelans to Chile, and wrote the aforementioned report of the millionaires account of Chilean politicians, plus Prosecutor NacJorge Abbott.
The publication was on January 4 and under the title The Secret Accounts of Chilean Politics https://primerinforme.com/2021/01/04/las-cuentas-secretas-de-la-politica-chilena/, Ocando claimed to have had access to powers signed by lawyers on behalf of politicians in accounts of Luxembourg, Cayman Islands, Zurich, New York, New Zealand, Monaco, Miami, Gibraltar and Trinidad and Tobago.
However, when consulted by El Líbero (the medium reported to the Media Ethics Council by Mario Desbordes), Ocando claimed to have «the detailed evidence to support our report, including account numbers, beneficiaries, types of accounts, which can be verified if any agency in Chile decides to investigate and request the information from these banks».
Among Venezuelan journalists, Casto Ocando does not have a good professional reputation, as it would be – according to their description – «a pot shipowner», a term coined by the Venezuelan press to refer to professionals who – with un chequeted data – build chronicles that often end up being fake news. And one of them is what happened with «The Secret Accounts of Chilean Politics.»
Atlas Network and fake news broadcasters
The day after the publication in Primerinforme.com, the analyst Patricio Navia he supported the twitter post by noting that «Casto Ocando @cocando is a Venezuelan journalist who worked at Miami Herald and Univision. He won an Emmy. It’s not a bot. Attention to this / The secret accounts of Chilean politics».
That same day, Overflows responded on the same social network that it was «False information, using a montage, you back up that political operation?» There was no counterattack from Navia, although there was a great deal of clashes between the Tuiters who supported Navia and others who questioned him for his tweet.
As Navia, the mayoral candidate for Las Condes for the Republican party, Gonzalo de la Carrera, also quickly joined in the dissemination of fake news, as well as the actor Vasco Moulián and Cristián Espejo, who according to sources from Chile Vamos, are known as operators of the UDI.
From there, the far-right accounts began to move the article via Twitter, Facebook and whatsapp networks.
With a limited scope and without getting the fake news of replicating in Chile, the publication of the second article had a different digital strategy, this time of international scope. The main influencer of the publication of February 7, was the same director of the newspaper El Nacional, Miguel H. Otero, with 1. 7 M of followers followed the accounts of Nelson Bocaranda and Napoleon bravo, both with more than 1 M followers.
These latter accounts, together with Ocando’s, have continuously appeared multiplying content from fake news, media relations held by the Atlas Network Foundation.
The Atlas Network is an NGO based in the United States that aims to promote free-market economic policies around the world. Atlas Network’s main promoters are heritage foundation (the right wing of the Republican party) that entered the reagan, George Bush son and Trump administrations. This foundation, in its Latin American version, includes in its eaves NGGs and Centers for Studies linked to the economic right, the conservative Catholic right and the far right.
The organization has provided hundreds of grants to right-wing free-market promotion groups in Latin America, including groups that supported the Brazil Free Movement against President Dilma Roussef, dismissed in 2016. Atlas funded the Think a Think tank Foundation that merged with the political party formed by Mauricio Macri, an entrepreneur who became president of Argentina.
In Chile they are associated with this network from the Freedom and Development Foundation, led by Marcela Cubillos – wife of Chancellor Andrés Allamand, to Nueva Mente, the foundation of María Teresa Marinovic, through the Fundación Prensa Libre, which edits El Líbero.