The Venezuelan banker Julio Herrera Velutini asked the court to exclude him from the gag order imposed on the parties in the case against the former governor Wanda Vazquez Garced.
In a motion filed yesterday afternoon, the defense of Herrera Velutini requested that the order be dropped or, at the very least, be allowed “to make public statements regarding the allegations in this case if such statements are directed to the press, the media, and/or the public outside of the United States.” the United States”.
The motion stated that the restriction prevents him from publicly defending himself against the allegations against him, which have been expressed by federal authorities and reviewed by the press.
He also argued that the gag “has a disproportionate impact on him.”
He pointed out that, until the moment he turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he lived in London, England, where he operates an international business network.
He added that since the indictment he has received “constant requests about the allegations,” since the gag order “will not stop the press from reporting on the matter,” while “it will only stop Mr. Herrera Velutini from having a voice in that discussion.”
In this way, just as Vázquez Garced did, the banker joins co-defendant Mark Rossini’s petition to rescind or modify the gag order.
Federal Judge Raúl Arias Marxuach issued the order last month. It provided that the parties to the case may only discuss the information that is part of the public record of the case, such as motions and orders. The indictment is also public.
They can only comment on documents that are sealed or other procedures that are not available to the general public.
Arias Marxuach indicated in his order that the purpose was to try to find a balance between the public attention of a case – which involves a former governor – with the interest that the accused have a fair trial, since the members have not yet been selected. of the jury.
For his part, Herrera Velutini pointed out that, although the gag order “has good intentions”, the effect will be that “it will cause more damage than what it prevents.”
In that sense, he cited an expression of the Fourth Circuit of Appeals indicating that “‘by prohibiting only certain types of information from selected sources,’ the protection order can actually distort public discussion, ‘thus increasing prejudice instead of mitigating it.”
“Therefore, it is equally important for Mr. Herrera Velutini to receive a fair trial to have a vehicle through which to express his truthful and valid defenses to the allegations in this matter in response to press speculation in this regard,” he added.
A federal grand jury issued on August 3 last a seven-count indictment against Vázquez Garced, Herrera Velutini and Rossini. All three face 20 years in prison on charges that include conspiracy, bribery and fraud.
Herrera Velutino is the owner of Bancocrédito and Rossini was his advisor, in addition to having worked in the past as an FBI agent.
According to the indictment of the Federal Grand Jury, the three conspired for Vázquez Garced to receive contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from the banker, with the help of Rossini, in exchange for the then official removing George Joyner from the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF), in order to put an end to the audit that had detected suspicious transactions in Herrera Velutini’s bank accounts.