Herrera Velutini would have fought to maintain control of the OCIF: “The snake is killed by the head”

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After he got former Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced to appoint his compliance advisor -Víctor Rodríguez Bonilla- to the head of the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF) and Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia prevailed in the 2020 elections, The banker Julio M. Herrera Velutini He continued with his plan to control the financial regulator and even seemed interested in removing the successor of his recommendation, Natalia Zequeira Díaz, from the post, according to federal authorities.

According to the indictment of a federal jury against Herrera Velutini, Vázquez Garced and the federal agent, Mark T. Rossini, once the former Secretary of Justice did not win the primary in the New Progressive Party (PNP), the banker decided make donations to the campaign of Pierluisi Urrutia and that of the librist Charlie Delgado.

But once Pierluisi Urrutia won the governorship and the administration changed, which involved the departure of his OCIF recommendation, Rodríguez Bonilla, the banker resumed his efforts to control the regulatory agency, according to the federal indictment against him.

Last May, through his lawyer Luis Delgado, he denied having made political donations to the former president.

Specifically, the indictment reads, between the months of April and August of last year, Herrera made himself available, through the former administrator of Public Housing, John Blakeman, and the president of Bancrédito, Frances M. Díaz Fosse, to contribute to a committee of political action (SuperPac, in English) that would have been created in favor of Pierluisi Urrutia. In exchange for a contribution of $50,000, Herrera Velutini asked Witness 1, who was posing as a representative of the governor, to bend the regulatory mollero of the OCIF.

Blakeman and Diaz Fosse pleaded guilty to the acts last March.

But when offering some details of the investigation, the federal prosecutor for the District of Puerto Rico, Stephen J. Muldrow, said at a press conference that Pierluisi Urrutia had no responsibility in the investigation nor with the SuperPac that would benefit him.

The operation to confirm the interest of Herrera Velutini

And it is that said political action committee, identified in the indictment as “SuperPac 2″, was created by “Witness 1″ at the request of the federal authorities.

Through this decoy and the participation of an OCIF official who collaborated in the investigation, the federal authorities were able to confirm Herrera Velutini’s interest in controlling OCIF. This, in order to free Bancrédito International Bank & Trust from new regulatory measures against it, which would be implemented with a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU, in English, and prevent the scrutiny of the Network for the Detection of Financial Crimes (FINCen ). This is the federal agency in charge of implementing the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the regulations aimed at preventing money laundering or AML.

It is understood that “Witness 1” is the public accountant Joseph “Joey” Fuentes, who created the SuperPac “Save Puerto Rico” and pleaded guilty to concealing the identity of the donors to that organization aimed at supporting the candidacy of Pierluisi Urrutia .

“The commissioner’s office has to be purged,” Herrera Velutini would have written to his subordinate Díaz Fosse in a text message on April 23, 2021, the accusation says.

About six days later, Díaz wrote to his boss to indicate that he had arranged a meeting with Governor Pierluisi’s people, to which Herrera Velutini responded with the prayer icon (emoji), the word “Amen” and a “You know what what you have to do”.

In another message, that same April 29, Herrera Velutini wrote to Díaz Fosse to indicate that “the snake is killed by the head”, to which the banker replied “there is no other way”.

Pierluisi Urrutia arrived in La Fortaleza on January 2, 2021 and a week later, he appointed Zequeira Díaz to the OCIF.

A lawyer specializing in banking compliance matters, Zequeira Díaz came to the OCIF, aware that the unit was facing budget problems and did not have enough personnel to carry out its oversight tasks. She also knew that the name of Puerto Rico raised concerns among federal financial regulators, which was recorded in a US Treasury report.

In order to address the operational problems of the OCIF, last year, Zequeira Díaz began to advocate for more budget, the revision of salary scales and the hiring of new personnel.

In parallel, the lawyer decided to emphasize the supervision of Banking Entities and International Financial Entities (EBI) and (EFI), respectively, to attend to the indications of the federal Treasury.

Thus, while Zequeira Díaz sought to strengthen the OCIF, Herrera Velutini sought to defend his interests, donating to “SuperPac 2″ promoted by “Witness 1″.

Aside from resisting new regulatory conditions in an MOU and preventing FINCen’s scrutiny, which would be done by exempting Bancrédito from filing certain Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) when it comes to Herrera Velutini’s bank accounts and controlled companies ; the banker was interested in a favorable report from the OCIF towards the bank he founded and “that certain employees be removed from their positions.”

According to sources in this newspaper, Herrera Velutini was interested in the dismissal of the examiners who had participated in the Bancrédito exams.

Currently, due to its non-compliance with the OCIF, Bancrédito faces a voluntary liquidation order from the state financial regulator.

“Paid musician does not play well”

Taking into account that for Herrera Velutini, according to some text messages in the federal accusation, “paid musician does not play well”, it was not until he received the certainty that the OCIF would give in to his claims, that the banker would have transferred money from his personal account “in London”, presumably to an account in Puerto Rico, owned by Bancrédito.

Federal authorities gave Herrera Velutini the certainty he needed.

On June 9, 2021, Blakeman wrote to Witness 1, understood to be accountant Joseph “Joey” Fuentes, that “the current commissioner (Natalia Zequeira) needed to call the bank for a meeting and sign an agreement, which would serve to Julio (Herrera Velutini) for what we talked about”.

Two days later, at the direction of federal authorities, an OCIF official called Blakeman to inform him that “he or she was addressing his concerns.”

Blakeman then wrote a text message to “Witness 1″ stating: “Call received!! Super. I already told Frances. It’s late for Julio, but I’ll call him tomorrow.”

That same month, Herrera Velutini confirmed that he would collaborate on SuperPac 2.

On August 10, 2021, a Bancrédito official authorized a transfer of $25,000 from that EBI account in FirstBank with termination 9763 to an account in Citibank with termination 0116.

According to the registry of the Federal Election Commission on that same date, the SuperPac “Save Puerto Rico” registered a donation of $25,000 by “Bancrédito Holding” and the bank account of that SuperPac is located in a Citibank branch in the federal capital.

Accusation against the… by El Nuevo Día

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