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AFV is suing a slew of Miami and Latin American-based companies and their principals over a failed bolivars-for-dollars exchange. (Photos: BCV and NPS) 
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Special Reports

Venezuela Currency Mess Sparks Lawsuit

Venezuelan firm sues in Miami over alleged fraud by US and Latin American companies.

BY LATINVEX STAFF

The perils of Venezuela’s currency restrictions have spurred a lawsuit by a Venezuelan company against companies in the United States and Latin America.

All Factoring de Venezuela, CA (AFV) claims it was defrauded of 130 million bolivars (worth $8.6 million dollars) when it was induced into a fraudulent short-term “loan” transaction which AFV was led to believe would function as a bolivars-for-dollars exchange. 

Now AFV is suing a slew of Miami and Latin American-based companies and their principals, including Miami residents Luis Wolkowiez and Jorge Reyes, for the $8.6 million dollars AFV claims it was never repaid from the original 234.6 million bolivars (valued at $15.5 million dollars) it transferred in December 2012 to a Venezuelan entity owned by Wolkowiez pursuant to a loan agreement with British Virgin Islands-based Atmosphere Fund.

CONSPIRACY, CIVIL THEFT CHARGES

AFV’s amended complaint was filed Aug. 30 in Miami-Dade Circuit court by Edward H. Davis, Jr. of Astigarraga Davis. The AFV suit alleges breach of contract, rescission, unjust enrichment, conversion, conspiracy, and civil theft under Florida statute, along with several fraud claims stemming from the fraudulent inducement of AFV in the bolivars-for-dollars transaction. The Florida civil theft claim, if substantiated, would entitle AFV to treble damages.

According to the lawsuit, a Colombian broker, Ricardo Ripepi, allegedly conspired with Santiago Goiri of Curacao-based Amicorp Fund Services and Jorge Reyes, a broker in the Brickell office of CP Capital Securities in Miami, to induce AFV of Venezuela to sign short-term loan agreements and in early December 2012 to transfer 234.6 million bolivars into a bank account owned by Wolkowiez’s Inversiones 01590 company in Venezuela for the benefit of borrower Atmosphere Fund, a portfolio company based in the BVI.  

The loan agreements were allegedly signed by Martin Litwak, a well-known Uruguayan corporate attorney who serves as Director to Atmosphere Fund. 

“Shortly after the transfer of the 234.6 million bolivars, Reyes informed AFV that repayment of the funds would take longer than had been previously agreed to and then began misrepresenting when the funds would be repaid,” the lawsuit says.  

DISCLAIMING OBLIGATION

Unable to come to terms on a timeline for the repayment of the funds, AFV demanded that the transaction be cancelled. However only 104.6 million bolivars have been repaid by Wolkowiez to date.  Despite retaining AFV’s 130 million bolivars, defendants Wolkowiez, Reyes, Litwak, and Armando Iachini, an ultimate beneficial owner of Atmosphere Fund who also owns numerous businesses in Florida and is a construction mogul in Venezuela, are now disclaiming any obligation to return the funds.

 In its amended complaint AFV is seeking to pierce the corporate veil of Inversiones 01590, and Construcciones Yamaro, a major Caracas-based construction company, in order to hold Wolkowiez and Iachini, respectively, individually liable because they allegedly used their Venezuela-based companies to commit fraud.

Wolkowiez, a Venezuelan citizen currently living in Miami, owns and operates several business including SLB Investments, which exchanges currencies, Zona Black, which sells used cell phones, and Doral Wine & Spirits, along with several other entities registered with Florida’s Secretary of the State.

All of the named defendants are alleged agents, representatives or beneficial owners of Atmosphere Fund, in addition to other companies that arranged the deal. 

“My client alleges that like many frauds, this one utilized multiple people and entities to induce the transfer of funds, receive the funds, and ultimately, to create delay, confusion, and false deniability as to the validity, authority, and terms of the contract,” Davis says.

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