Venezuelan authorities have detained the family of a former presidential security guard after his name appeared in the files of the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca.
The Interior Ministry in a statement late Wednesday said it had arrested Josmel Velásquez Figueroa and his mother, Amelis Figueroa, “due to their alleged ties to the Panama Papers case.”
The move comes after Velásquez’s brother, Adrián Velásquez Figueroa, and his wife, Claudia Díaz, were profiled by journalists who questioned how the couple had amassed enough money to open a shell company in the Seychelles and live in an upscale part of the Dominican Republic.
Adrián had been a security guard at the Miraflores presidential palace during the Hugo Chávez administration and his wife had been in the navy before becoming the president of the National Treasury Office of Venezuela.
According to the leaked Mossack Fonseca documents, the couple began setting up offshore accounts just days after President Nicolás Maduro narrowly won a contested election in 2013.
The Interior Ministry didn’t mention the couple who, presumably, still live abroad, but said their two family members were being charged with money laundering and conspiracy.
The arrest took place on April 15, as the two were trying to leave the country from the Charallave airport in Miranda state, the government said.
The warrants were issued after authorities said they found luxury cars, motorcycles, empty Rolex boxes and jewels at their homes.
The word “Venezuela” appears more than 240,000 times in the 11.5 million Mossack Fonseca documents that were leaked to Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Among those mentioned in the papers are former officials with the state-run PDVSA oil company, military officials and one-time Chávez confidants.
Maduro has asked the attorney general’s office to pursue those mentioned in the Panama Papers “whoever they might be.”