Venezuelan bondholder assesses seizure of assets of indicted media mogul


NEW YORK, Oct. 5 (Reuters) – A defaulting Venezuelan bondholder considers an attempt to seize beachfront apartments in Florida owned by Raul Gorrin, a media mogul accused by U.S. prosecutors of bribing Venezuelan officials to obtain contracts, according to court documents.

The possible move by Casa Express Corp, a little-known Florida firm that was one of the first to sue the crisis-stricken South American country for defaulting on bonds, shows how creditors are looking further and further away assets linked to Venezuela.

A U.S. federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled in November 2020 that Casa Express was entitled to collect $ 43.2 million from Venezuela in unpaid obligations under two bonds the country defaulted on in 2018 in a context of prolonged economic collapse.

In August 2021, the company registered this judgment in federal court in Florida. The apartments are owned by two Delaware-registered companies that the United States says are owned or controlled by Gorrin – Posh 8 Dynamic Inc and Planet 2 Reaching Inc, according to Miami-Dade County records.

In an Oct. 1 filing, a lawyer for both companies said Casa Express required them “to file an affidavit indicating why certain real estate should not be applied to the satisfaction of the judgment.” The deposit was first reported by financial information provider REDD.

Lawyers for Casa Express and the Delaware corporations did not respond to requests for comment.

In 2018, US prosecutors accused Gorrin, owner of Venezuelan television station Globovision, of violating US anti-corruption laws by paying $ 150 million in bribes to Venezuelan officials for the right to participate. lucrative currency transactions and laundering funds through US assets.

Any attempt by Casa Express to foreclose on the apartments would face multiple obstacles, said Jay Auslander, partner at law firm Wilk Auslander specializing in the enforcement of judgments.

“They are going to have to show that these assets are held by Gorrin for the benefit of Venezuela,” Auslander said.

Additionally, Posh 8 Dynamic and Planet 2 Reaching were both sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in 2019, preventing US companies from doing business with them. Casa Express would need an OFAC license to seize the assets, Auslander said.

Apartments owned by Posh 8 Dynamic and Planet 2 Reaching are valued at $ 6.2 million and $ 11.8 million respectively, according to property records.

Report by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by David Gregorio

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