Key US law enforcement aide being investigated for allegedly extorting former Venezuelan officials

But questions hang over Spain’s allegations that Martin Rodil exploited ties to US officials.

By Spencer Woodman and Brenda Medina

An illustration of Martin Rodil. (Credit ICIJ)

Akey consultant to United States law enforcement efforts to pursue corrupt Venezuelan government officials and drug traffickers is now himself being investigated in Spain for allegedly extorting some of the same wealthy Venezuelans targeted in U.S. probes.

Prosecutors in Spain allege that Martin Rodil, the consultant and a prominent expert on Venezuelan corruption, led a group that targeted wealthy Venezuelans suspected of corruption. Members of this group, including three Spanish police officers, are now under investigation for alleged influence-peddling, corruption and money laundering. In court documents, Spanish prosecutors say the former officials, who are prominent figures in Venezuela’s massive public corruption scandal, paid Rodil and his associates in the apparent belief that it would help them avoid criminal charges.

Allies of Rodil say that the former Venezuelan officials accusing him are attempting to discredit the U.S. investigations into their own alleged malfeasance by launching a campaign against a key aide to U.S. authorities. They say prosecutors in Spain — a country that some experts call a safe haven for corrupt Venezuelans — are misguidedly pursuing an agenda based on the misinformation campaign of these oligarchs.

Roger Noriega, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, who more recently has worked with Rodil’s consulting business, called Rodil an effective anti-corruption crusader and said that the payments to him “were made in the context of when Martin was cooperating in carefully monitored activities” overseen by U.S. authorities. The Spanish investigation stems from “a story being spun by criminals with their legal counsel,” Noriega said.

With a wide-ranging consulting practice, Rodil has worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as well as the nation’s top prosecutors’ offices.

Rodil has maintained two professional specialties that complement each other: He provides private consulting services to wealthy Venezuelans seeking to relocate to the United States, partially through connecting them with officials involved in his other line of business – helping the U.S. government to pursue corruption and drug cases. These Venezuelans could in essence trade their knowledge of crimes for residency in the US.

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