Uruguay: A plot of international corruption, extortion and threats attached to President Lacalle

The painful defeat against Portugal in the Qatar 2022 World Cup was not the only news that moved Uruguay this Monday. The newspaper The Daily announced that A Miami-based “security and investigation” company entrusted the former head of custody of President Luis Lacalles, of detainee Alejandro Astesiano, with “personal information” on two Broad Front senators intended to extort them “so that they withdraw the complaint” about the concession of the port of Montevideo to the Belgian company Katoen Natie. Five months later, Astesiano received a money transfer from that company, also interested in the purchase of two patrol boats for the Navy.

Since the link of the president’s extremely trusted man for more than 20 years with the falsification of documents for Russian citizens to obtain Uruguayan passports was revealed, the scandal has not stopped growing. At the time of his arrest, his cell phone was kidnapped, and although the former police officer had deleted it, the Scientific Police managed to recover all of his content.

This is how the investigators became aware of different “deals” carried out by Astesiano for international businessmen, including several Argentines with interests in Uruguay. The journalist Lucas Silva revealed this Monday in The Daily the case of the request for information on the opposition senators, exposed in the recovered chats

From military to police

“A retired Uruguayan soldier, who appears as manager of the Miami company, made the request two weeks after both legislators expanded the criminal complaint before the Prosecutor’s Office for the port concession,” the journalist revealed.

In the chats it is read that “they want to tie them up so that they withdraw the complaint”, as an explanation of the former Army officer, in a communication with Astesiano on March 18, to substantiate his request. “I need all the personal data and links that you can get me,” he deepened two days later. In the first week of August, according to another of the chats, Astesiano received a Western Union money transfer from the company located in the city of Boca Raton, some seventy kilometers north of Miami.

The Daily reveals that “between February and September, the company also asked Astesiano for information on various matters related to the Executive Tower, such as the purchase of two ocean patrol boats (OPV) for the National Navy – a million-dollar business in which one had an interest of its clients, the Korean Hyundai Heavy Industries-, the acquisition of aircraft for the Uruguayan Air Force and even details of a meeting that President Luis Lacalle Pou held in March with the Chinese-Canadian Changpenz Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, one of the most important cryptocurrency trading sites globally”.

All the details about the new Astesiano case

The following is a transcription of an extensive excerpt from Lucas Silva’s research published in The Daily, where the traffic of influences and privileged information that threatens to become the biggest corruption scandal of the government of President Lacalle are exposed:

“Jorge (fictitious name) is the founder and executive director of Vertical Skies. Andrés (also fictitious name) is the general manager of the company in Uruguay. Both are retired soldiers from the Army and had frequent exchanges with the head of presidential security, as recorded in the WhatsApp chats to which he accessed The Daily and that appear in the investigative folder.

Vertical Skies presents itself on its website as a ‘global consultancy’ with over 30 years of ‘strong reputation and experience’ and operations in over 50 countries. It says it is dedicated to the areas ‘security, research, prevention, risk management, business, investment, technology applied to business growth and performance’, through the use of ‘artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and remotely operated sensors’.

Its clients include firms and organizations such as Microsoft, the United Nations, the US Army, Interpol, the European Union, the Organization of American States (OAS), governments and “more than 1,000 private sector clients.”

The days and months are important to begin to understand this story. On Thursday, March 3, Senators Bergara and Carrera ratified their criminal complaint at the Prosecutor’s Office for the agreement between the government and the Belgian company Katoen Natie.

Fifteen days later, on the afternoon of March 18, the manager of Vertical Skies writes down the names of the two opposition legislators in a conversation with Astesiano and sends him an audio message. Seconds later, the then head of presidential security asks him: ‘What complaint are you making?’ ‘The one from the port’, answers Andrés. ‘Well, luxury,’ replies Astesiano.

Read Also:  Severe Heatwave in Bangladesh Leaves Millions of Children Without Education

The Vertical Skies manager then details his intentions: ‘Let’s see, the information I need from them is all personal. Since they want to tie them up so that they withdraw the complaint. ‘Biennn’, answers Astesiano, with the same triple N that he frequently uses in other chats, when he wants to give an exclamation tone to his words. ‘Calm down,’ he ends up saying.

Two days later, on March 20, Astesiano and Andrés spoke again on the subject, in the framework of an exchange about a meeting between Lacalle Pou and the CEO of Binance (see linked note). ‘Of these two (by Bergara and Carrera) I need all the personal data and links that you can get me. But let’s go by part, tomorrow we talk well about these two, first the meeting with foreigners’, explains the manager of Vertical Skies.

In the following hours they exchange various audios and on March 22 they contact each other again. Andrés writes: ‘Ale, if you have it today let me know what happened at any time, if you’re not there, leave it in an envelope or to someone you trust, tomorrow I have a meeting.’ A minute later, Astesiano replies: ‘Good morning, today I think they bring it to me.’

However, on Monday, March 28, the delivery of information about Bergara and Carrera continued without materializing. ‘Good morning Ale, do you have my request, file of the two individuals?’, insists the former Army officer. ‘Good morning, at 15 I’m in the area. The other I spoke everything’, answers Astesiano. ‘Ok, shall I go to the Tower then?’ Asks his interlocutor.

Then they exchange audio messages, a trend that they maintain during the following days, when the conversation begins to focus on the conditions of the specifications for the purchase of two OPVs for the National Navy and the information that was published in those days about the bidding process in Press media.

Andrés insisted on his request again on April 4: ‘Good morning Ale, do you have a file on these two men?’ Once again they exchange audio messages, they continue to communicate by this means the following days and contact each other again to coordinate a face-to-face meeting at the Executive Tower for Thursday, May 5.

As of that date, the manager of Vertical Skies and Astesiano continue in permanent communication, but there is no longer any claim for the “chips” with the information about Bergara and Carrera.

Planes and transfers

On August 4, according to what can be read in chat 153, Astesiano received a message from a telephone number in the United States: ‘Dear Mr. Alejandro, good morning. I am the Head of Finance for Vertical Skies. I ask you to give me her full name so that I can make the transfer of the agreed commission via Western Union.’ Astesiano sends her information and a few minutes later the official sends him a proof of the transfer in PDF format.

Four days after that transfer was made, on August 8, Andrés wrote again to the head of presidential security: ‘Ale, Jorge told me that you received the money, do we have any new news?’ At this point, the topic of conversation had already changed: a few days before, the manager of Vertical Skies had asked him questions about a purchase of planes in the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU), a topic on which he would insist in the following weeks. ‘Ale, what does he say? I found out that the FAU is in Switzerland looking at the Pilatus,’ he wrote on September 14. A day later he added: ‘we already know that these planes are of no use to him, let’s hope they don’t pay attention to (Defense Minister Javier) García as with the OPVs.’

The last exchange of chat 798 messages is from September 22, while Astesiano was accompanying Lacalle Pou and his children on vacation in Costa Rica. Three days later, the head of presidential security would be arrested at the residence of Suárez and Reyes, in the framework of the case for false passports of Russian citizens.”

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here