Venezuela Investigates Opposition Figure Over Crates of Cash

Venezuelan authorities said Thursday they had opened an investigation into prominent opposition figure Lilian Tintori, after uncovering the equivalent of just over US$10,000 in her vehicle.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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The crates of cash Venezuelan authorities say they found in a vehicle belonging to the family of Lilian Tintori. (@VillegasPoljak)
The crates of cash Venezuelan authorities say they found in a vehicle belonging to the family of Lilian Tintori. (@VillegasPoljak)

Puebla, Mexico, September 1, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan authorities said Thursday they had opened an investigation into prominent opposition figure Lilian Tintori, after uncovering the equivalent of just over US$10,000 in her vehicle.

“We have appointed a prosecutor to determine the truth of the facts about the finding of that scandalous sum of money,” Attorney General Tarek William Saab stated.

Saab said police had found around 200 million bolivares in cash packed inside four wooden crates in a vehicle belonging to Lilian Tintori. The money is worth US$10,828 on Venezuela’s flourishing black market, although it’s closer to US$60,000 if calculated based on the government’s controlled rate.

On Friday, the 48th Metropolitan Court of Caracas summoned Tintori for a hearing scheduled for September 5. The court has imposed a travel ban, prohibiting Tintori from boarding a Saturday flight to Panama with connection to Madrid, where she was set to meet with embattled Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, himself under investigation for alleged corruption. 

The wife of prominent far-right politician Leopoldo Lopez, Tintori has in recent years made a name for herself as a hardline opposition leader in her own right. Her critics say she is too cozy with the U.S. government. She has admitted the money belonged to her family, but denied any wrongdoing.

“This money is to pay for my grandma who is 100 years old and has been hospitalized for days. She has no insurance,” Tintori tweeted, later dismissing the investigation against her as politically motivated.

“The dictatorship continues its persecution against our family. Nothing will stop our struggle for freedom, peace and democracy,” she said.

Tintori has long been at odds with Venezuela’s government, and is a popular figure among violent opposition groups who are suspected of killing at least 23 people this year. An additional eight deaths have been linked to their controversial protest tactics, such as the use of barricades and roadblocks. Tintori herself has said she opposes violence. Earlier this year, she also sparked controversy after meeting with US President Donald Trump, who demanded the release of her husband Lopez.

In 2015, Lopez was sentenced to thirteen years and nine months in prison for his role in leading 2014’s violent anti-government protests that left 43 dead, the majority of whom security personnel, passer-bys, and government supporters. The street mobilizations resulted in an additional 800 injured as well as millions of dollars in property damage. In July, a Venezuelan court ordered Lopez's release on house arrest citing health concerns.