updated 8/14/2007 5:49:16 PM ET 2007-08-14T21:49:16

A prosecutor said Tuesday she is seeking the arrest of a U.S.-based Venezuelan businessman who triggered an international scandal by bringing $800,000 in undeclared cash into Argentina on a government-chartered flight.

Prosecutor Luz Rivas Diez said she wants to have Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson detained so he can answer questions about the cash, which was seized by Argentine customs authorities at a Buenos Aires airport on Aug 4.

Argentine authorities have said Antonini Wilson left the country on Aug. 5, headed for Uruguay, according to Argentine newspaper reports. His whereabouts were unclear, but he has an apartment in Key Biscayne, Fla.

The businessman arrived with a suitcase filled with cash on an executive jet chartered by Argentina’s state energy company just days before Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Argentina and signed debt and energy deals with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner.

Also on the flight were Argentine officials, three employees of Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, and the son of a PDVSA executive who works in its Argentina office.

Resignation, investigations
The incident has shaken the Argentine government, prompted one Argentine official to resign and led Venezuelan authorities to launch investigations. Officials so far have given no explanation as to why Antonini Wilson had the cash or what sort of business he is in.

Corporate records in the U.S. list Alejandro Antonini, apparently the same man, as an executive of the Florida-based companies Techmilk Inc., Venuz Supply Inc., Global Ads Corp. and Foxdelta Investments.

Antonini Wilson owns a three-bedroom condominium in Key Biscayne that has a market value of about $1 million, according to Miami-Dade County records. Venezuelan public records show he is registered to vote at the Venezuelan consulate in Miami.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told state television in Caracas that PDVSA has no relationship with Antonini Wilson. He said the state oil company would cooperate with prosecutors as needed. Venezuelan officials also say Antonini Wilson also holds U.S. citizenship.

“It’s certainly irregular that our employees were on that plane,” and that issue is the subject of a PDVSA internal investigation, Ramirez said.

Rivas Diez told Radio Continental said she has not ruled out seeking the arrest of Claudio Uberti, the Argentine official who resigned as head the Argentine agency in charge of the toll roads system in the wake of the scandal.

Uberti was accused of allowing Antonini Wilson to join the official Argentine delegation on the flight from Caracas chartered by state energy company Energia Argentina.

Warrants needed
Rivas Diez must first find a judge to issue the arrest warrants. Two judges have already declined to take up the case, citing procedural reasons.

Kirchner’s wife, Sen. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is the front-running candidate to succeed him in the Oct. 28 presidential election.

In Venezuela, Ramirez said the Argentina opposition “is trying to capitalize on this for the campaign” but that “we can’t be making policy based on the headlines.” He said Venezuelan and Argentine authorities are in communication about the case and “we are going to wait to see the results.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments