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Report: Democrats May Have Received Illegal Venezuelan Funds


NEW YORK (AllPolitics, Feb. 22) -- Federal prosecutors have received evidence that a Venezuelan banking family may have illegally funneled campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee during the 1992 election, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Federal Election Commission records show that contributions of roughly $92,000 came from a Miami lawyer for the family, Charles Intriago, and a member of the banking family, Jorge Castro Barredo, who is a U.S. citizen.

Prosecutors say they have evidence that both men were reimbursed by companies controlled by the Castro family in Venezuela, the Times reported.

It is illegal for international citizens or companies to make campaign contributions to U.S. political campaigns or to make contributions through representatives.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who provided the evidence of contributions to federal prosecutors, talked to the Times Friday, three days after several members of the Castro family were convicted in a bank fraud case.

Intriago denied Morgenthau's charges. Amy Weiss Tobe, a spokeswoman for the DNC, said the organization knew nothing of the contributions but would look into them.

Morgenthau's claims come at a time of a widening political controversy surrounding DNC campaign contributions. The committee has returned $1.6 million in contributions from international countries or individuals because it was unable to verify the money came from legal sources.

The Times also reported Saturday that the DNC plans to return more money from "improper" sources.

If Morgenthau's story is true, it would be the earliest-known donations to be questioned.

Castro Barredo and two other family members, Orlando Castro Llanes and Orlando Castro, were convicted Wednesday of fraud and larceny after a banking scam that cost the Venezuelan government $8 billion.

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