CARACAS -- On May 24, as part of an effort to close down Venezuela's stockbrokers, the Venezuelan government raided the Caracas offices of Econoinvest Casa de Bolsa, the country's largest brokerage, employing over 400 people. The government arrested four of its executives. They have remained in jail without benefit of bail since then, along with 12 other executives from the 40 brokerages (out of the country's total of 112) that the government has taken control of.
On Thursday, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez again went on the attack against the brokers, calling Econoinvest a "mafia" and a "nest of gangsters" and saying they engaged in fraud (SEE VIDEO BELOW).
According to Chavez, "These guys even held forged ID cards; stole identities; 700 files which we have found containing the identification of individuals, all of them with the same address and the same telephone number."
The implication was that brokers may have utilized people's names without their approval to use their rights to qualify for the limited amounts of shares or bonds that the government was allowing each individual to purchase.
"For one example, look how they looted," Chavez says before showing surveillance video of Econoinvest employees taking paintings, computers, files and boxes out after it became known that the government was intervening in the company. "They even stole computers."