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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

International man of finance: A profile of indicted Venezuelan banker Herrera Velutini

Julio Herrera Velutini

By The Star Staff

Julio Herrera Velutini, the Venezuelan banker who resigned as head of Bancrédito International Bank & Trust after his indictment along with former Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced and others on federal corruption charges, has led a high-powered life of financial influence.

The STAR made a profile of Herrera Velutini using media and other reports. This week Bancrédito stopped operating on the island over different failures, including the failure to maintain certain capital levels. Sources said the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions (OCIF by its Spanish acronym) found instances in which the bank tried to hide money from businessmen in Venezuela that were being investigated by the United States, including one who helped Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro evade U.S.-imposed sanctions.

The charges in Puerto Rico are not the only ones the banker has faced. He was charged in Venezuela over his role in the shutdown of the Banco Real Banco de Desarrollo and other financial institutions, and he ended up leaving the country.

Herrera Velutini comes from a long line of bankers.

As a financial industry executive with extensive banking and start-up experience,

Herrera Velutini hails from a lineage that established a Central Bank and an independent national currency in Venezuela. His ancestor, Julio César Velutini Couturier, ran Banco Caracas at a time when banks printed their own currencies. He played a major role in the growth of Banco Caracas. Velutini Couturier centralized control of the institution’s stock and oversaw the printing of money, which Banco Caracas did, up until the establishment of the Central Bank of Venezuela, according to the British Bugle.

The Herrera & Velutini families have had a strong influence on Venezuelan and Latin American history since the time of José Antonio Velutini Ron – a politician, congressman, diplomat and president of Venezuela between 1871 and 1912, according to the publication.

Herrera Velutini’s family has always influenced the Venezuelan banking and real estate industries. In 1590, his family founded the Hacienda de La Vega in Caracas, one of the first properties owned by the House of Herrera in Latin America. The family founded Banco Caracas in 1890, and later chaired the institution. Over the next 100 years, future family members were either chairmen or senior directors of Banco Caracas, right up until its sale in 1998.

The Velutini family retained majority control of Banco Caracas until 1989, holding a 70% stake in the institution. The family then went on to found other banking enterprises, including Banco Bolivar, Banco Activo and Banco Real.

Herrera Velutini spent most of his childhood in New York. He later studied at The American School in England (TASIS England) and The American School in Switzerland (TASIS). He later went back to Venezuela to pursue a degree at the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

He then started his career as a stockbroker in 1991 at the Caracas Stock Exchange in a brokerage firm called the Multinvest Casa de Bolsa. Eight years later, at the age of 28, he was already an internationally influential broker who bought out shareholders, including those of George Soros’s family holdings, to become the majority shareholder at the firm, of which he was a board member.

By 2007, along with the board of directors of Inversiones Transbanca, and his partners, José Herrera Velutini and Belén Clarisa Velutini, Julio Herrera Velutini had acquired companies such as Caracas Casa de Bolsa, IBG Trading, Banco Real and Banreal International Bank, recovering what once was a family holding, the publication said.

He served as chairman of the Board of Banco Real, and Banreal Holding, from early 2007 until February 2009.

In 2009, Julio M. Herrera Velutini founded Bancredito in Puerto Rico, a bank dedicated to private banking, corporate banking and institutional banking with a clientele mostly from Latin America, the publication said.

Herrera Velutini also acquired London-based Berkeley Futures, an FCA-authorized securities broker, in 2019. Berkeley Futures was founded in 1980, and is a bespoke, all-encompassing brokerage house.

Herrera Velutini is also director of Britannia Securities, regulated by the Central Bank of Bahamas, and the Securities Commission, according to the British Bugle. When the OCIF detected certain irregularities in the bank that the institution was unable to correct, Herrera Velutini allegedly offered former governor Vázquez Garced money for her political campaign in exchange for her to remove OCIF head George Joyner to stop the investigation against the bank.

Herrera Velutini through intermediaries sought to replace Joyner, who ended up resigning, with someone from his own bank, Víctor Rodríguez Bonilla. When the latter left following the change in government in 2020, the banker also allegedly attempted to bribe current Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, according to a federal indictment.

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