Trial of Eligio Cedeño

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Eligio Cedeño (born 1 December 1964; Caracas, Venezuela) is a Venezuelan banker, president of CEDEL Group, Venezuela. He is in the United States, having been released on bail from charges in Venezuela of circumventing government currency rules to gain U.S. dollars.[1][2][3]


Cedeño was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on 1 December 1964. He attended the University Simon Rodríguez in Caracas and earned a degree in Business Administration. Cedeño began work at an early age as a bank apprentice and was president of Bolivar-BanPro Financial Group, S.A. in Venezuela. He had previously been President of Banco Canarias de Venezuela (2001–2005).[4]

Arrest and release[edit]

In 2007 Cedeño, then President of Bolivar-Banpro Financial Group, was arrested in a crackdown by Venezuelan officials on individuals circumventing government currency rules to gain U.S. dollars. On 8 February 2007, Cedeño was accused by the Venezuelan Attorney General of aiding Consorcio MicroStar with illegal dollar transactions.[3][5][6][7] He was accused by authorities of helping the company obtain over $25 million from the currency exchange board in order to pay for computer imports that never entered Venezuela.[8] Over the next year prosecutors repeatedly failed to turn up for court dates, leading to accusations that the case was being strung out due to a lack of evidence.[1] Partly as a result, the United Nations' Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in September 2009 declared Cedeño's detention arbitrary.[9]

Cedeño's lawyers allege that he became a target of the Chávez government, as a consequence of his support for political opponents of Chávez. In addition to providing financial support to politicians, he provided assistance to union leader Carlos Ortega and columnist Patricia Poleo, both of whom would later be forced to flee Venezuela and seek political asylum.[citation needed] Further, still according to Cedeno's lawyers, the criminal charges against Cedeño appear to have been part of an orchestrated effort to force him to sell bank assets to individuals close to Chávez at an enormous discount.[10] Cedeño's lawyers argue that this case "identifies the typical pattern employed by the pliant judiciary to attack Chávez's political opponents"[10][11]—although there is no evidence that Cedeño was campaigning against or criticizing the government prior to his arrest.[12]

Held in jail pending trial for 34 months, Cedeño was paroled on 10 December 2009 by judge Maria Lourdes Afiuni. By the 19th Cedeño had fled to the United States, where he was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement until the 23rd of December 2009 when he was released on parole pending an immigration hearing.[13] Due to her decision to liberate Cedeño, Judge Afiuni was herself jailed.

On Wednesday, May 18, 2011, Judge Lourdes Martinez-Esquivel approved United States asylum for Eligio Cedeño in a Miami immigration court. Victor Cerda, his immigration attorney, said "the decision is objective proof that Eligio Cedeño was a political prisoner. Contrary to President Chávez's assertions, he is not a criminal."[8]


  1. ^ a b "Cedeno Trial Postponed for Fourth Time in a Month". Reuters. 19 March 2008. Archived from the original on 3 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Prominent Venezuelan Business Leader, Eligio Cedeno, Denied Right to Fair Trial, Again". Reuters. 13 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b "Venezuelan bank president detained in crack down on illegal dollar transactions". International Herald Tribune. 8 February 2007. Archived from the original on 2 April 2007.
  4. ^ "Banco Canarias to acquire Banco Bolivar - Venezuela". The America's Intelligence Wire. 17 June 2004.
  5. ^ "Interpol captura en Panamá a Gustavo Arraíz imputado por caso Microstar". 1 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 May 2008. External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Fiscalía realizó nueva acusación por caso Microstar". 26 March 2007. Archived from the original on 7 May 2008. External link in |publisher= (help)
  7. ^ "Detienen en Panamá a solicitado por caso Microstar". El Universal. 5 March 2007. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. External link in |publisher= (help)
  8. ^ a b "U.S. Grants Asylum to Chavez Opponent". WSJ. 19 May 2011.
  9. ^ The Guardian, 17 December 2009, UN human rights panel accuses Chávez of undermining Venezuelan judges
  10. ^ a b "Bolivarian rule of lawlesness". Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  11. ^ "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Abuses Extradition Treaties, Says Lawyer". 29 December 2009. Retrieved 31 December 2013.
  12. ^ Suggett, James (13 April 2010). "Fighting Corruption or Persecuting Political Opponents in Venezuela? A Response to the New York Times". Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  13. ^ "UPDATE: Venezuelan Banker, Wanted Back Home, Is Paroled In US". WSJ. 23 December 2009.[dead link]

External links[edit]