Ricardo Fernández Barrueco
Ricardo Fernández Barrueco (1965 - ) is a Venezuelan businessman, whose net worth was estimated in 2005 at $1.6bn with "a web of 270 companies in industries as diverse as tuna-fishing and banking". Fernandez' Proarepa Group (nationalised in January 2010) is one of the largest suppliers to the Venezuelan Mercal chain of subsidised state-owned supermarkets.
Barrueco began his career as the owner of a small Venezuelan trucking company. During the Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003 Barrueco quickly rose to prominence when he aided the government by lending them his vehicles to support the government's attempts to maintain food distribution during the strike. Barrueco received death threats at the time, because, he said, the opposition did no understand that his customer ultimately was not the government but the most excluded part of the population. The distribution network developed during the strike later became the Mercal chain of subsidised state-owned supermarkets.
In mid-2009 Fernandez acquired Digitel GSM from Oswaldo Cisneros for $800m. In September and October 2009 Fernandez led a group of investors in taking over four banks - Canarias, Confederado, Bolívar and BanPro - together accounting for 5.7 percent of Venezuela's banking sector. In late 2009 Fernandez was arrested in Venezuela for a variety of charges, including misappropriation of funds, in connection with the takeover due to liquidity problems of the four banks acquired by Fernandez. He still remains in custody, no trial date has been set. His banks were among several that were taken over by the government during the 2009-2010 Venezuelan banking crisis; several were merged into the new Banco Bicentenario.
Fernandez Barrueco’s Proarepa Group supplied the Venezuelan Mercal chain of subsidized state-owned supermarkets, providing around 10% of the country's maize flour. The company was taken over by the Venezuelan government in January 2010 and placed under the control of the Unidades de Produccion Socialistas (UPS); the government aimed to double production.
- entornointeligente.com, 24 November 2009, Ricardo Fernández, otro más que termina en los calabozos de la Disip
- Miami Herald, 10 January 2010, Hugo Chávez drafted banker in fraud case to fix Cuba's economy, insiders say[dead link]
- Simon Romero, New York Times, 16 February 2010, Purging Loyalists, Chávez Tightens His Inner Circle
- (Spanish) VTV, 13 January 2010, Gobierno Bolivariano recuperó Industria Venezolana Maicera Proarepa[dead link]
- (Spanish) El Universal, 19 September 2010, "Creí en la palabra de Chávez"
- "recibía muchas llamadas aconsejándome que me retirara de los programas de alimentación del Gobierno. Ante mi negativa recibí hasta amenazas de muerte. No entendían que mi cliente final era justamente la población más excluida y no el Gobierno". - El Universal, 19 September 2010, "Creí en la palabra de Chávez"
- "Ricardo Fernandez acquires Digitel Venezuela - report". Telecompaper. 2009-08-31. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
- Buenos Aires Herald, Venezuelan banks: Chávez to take control[dead link]
- "Poder 360° - Page One Daily News - Attorney Accuses Fernandez Barrueco". Poder360.com. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2011-10-27.