Costa Rica probes soapy money-laundering link to Venezuela

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, (Reuters) – Costa Rica said yesterday it was investigating two men suspected of laundering money for Venezuelan government firms after detecting a shady scheme to buy millions of bars of soap.

Investigators in the Central American nation said they had frozen at least $15.5 million in bank accounts belonging to a Costa Rican lawyer and a Venezuelan who had made suspicious transactions for a company owned by Venezuela’s government.

Police raided the premises of the lawyer and the hotel room where the Venezuelan was staying to gather evidence, but made no arrests, the country’s judicial investigation agency, a unit of the attorney general’s office, said in a statement.

“The suspicion is that bank accounts are being created in Costa Rica to launder money in the United States and other countries, from companies belonging to the Venezuelan government”, the statement said.

Venezuelan government officials were not immediately available to comment.
Costa Rican investigators believe the two men also created other companies to launder money coming from Venezuelan government-owned firms. The agency did not name the companies.

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