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VENEZUELA: Richard Branson’s ‘Live Aid’ Cash Embezzled by Guaidó Camp for Luxury Sprees


It was all the rage back in February – Sir Richard Branson, the maverick billionaire entrepreneur of Virgin fame, proudly announced he was organizing a new “Live Aid” benefit concert in the Colombian city Cúcuta, all to help the ‘poor people’ of Venezuela who we’re told were being starved to death by the evil Maduro regime. The event was held on February 22, and attracted some 200,000 punters, with the goal of raising $100 million to buy food and medicine for Venezuelans teetering on the brink of a mass famine. ‘Feed the world’ rang once more. But the media fairy tale would be short-lived.

Four months later, the story has ended in tears, with associates of Washington’s own hand-picked “interim president” of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, implicated in the embezzlement of funds raised by Branson’s high-profile ‘charity event.’  According to reports, the Guaidó camp apparently siphoned off the cash which was meant for humanitarian aid, and instead spend it on lavish hotels, posh nightclubs and designer retail shopping sprees.

Guaido has been forced to sack some of his appointees who were allegedly running the cash embezzlement scheme.

At the time of the event, Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters came under fire by the western establishment for imploring his music industry colleagues, and indeed Branson himself, to “back off” and let the people of Venezuela handle their own affairs. Branson insisted he knew better, and duly marched ahead on a mainstream media platform of international praise for his great ‘humanitarian effort’, or so it seemed.

As it turns out, 21WIRE editor Patrick Henningsen accurately predicted this result back in February, stating at the time that Virgin boss Branson’s first big foray into geopolitics would eventually end in disaster:

Indeed, and backfire it did, and in truly epic fashion.

RT International reports…

Millions of dollars raised for “freedom and democracy” in Venezuela ended up spent in Colombia by the aides of US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido, and were exposed by Colombian spies in yet another blow to his cause.

Guaido declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January and was recognized by the US and many of its Latin American allies, but has repeatedly failed to seize power from President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas.

Now he seems farther from that goal than ever, as several of his aides have been named by Colombian intelligence in a leak revealing the embezzlement of US funds intended for paying Venezuelan army defectors. The funds were raised by a Live Aid-style concert, organized by billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson in February, and intended to coincide with Guaido’s followers forcing open the border with Colombia to US “humanitarian aid.”

The leaked documents – published by PanAm Post, an outlet sympathetic to Guaido – now reveal why that never happened. Regional coordinator for Guaido’s Popular Will Party, Kevin Rojas, and the “interim president’s” chief of staff Rossana Barrera were accused of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash on fancy hotels, expensive clothes, booze, car and other high-life items.

In one example, Rojas and Barrera claimed to have spent money on seven hotels to house over 1,400 defectors, but Colombian authorities counted only half that number crossing the border, and only two hotels were actually paid for. Instead, receipts reveal the duo blew over $125,000 on luxuries for themselves, including $40,000 in April alone. The following month, one of the hotels evicted 65 defectors and their families, over more than $20,000 in unpaid bills.

The publication forced Guaido into full damage control mode. On Monday, he finally acknowledged the existence of the allegations and vowed to “clarify the case of officials appointed to serve our military in Cúcuta,” appointing aid coordinator Lester Toledo to join the investigation in Colombia.

“Dictatorships cover [up] corruption,” he added. “We do not.”  

His envoy to Colombia, Humberto Calderón Berti, requested a “formal investigation related to the alleged irregularities” on Tuesday.

In addition to the embezzled funds, Guaido’s staff botched the distribution of aid sent by the US, with an estimated 60 percent rotting in the warehouses and having to be thrown away. The full extent of the scandal is yet to be revealed, as the PanAm Post has more unpublished documents in its possession….

Continue this story at RT International

READ MORE VENEZUELA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Venezuela Files

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