Horses ridden by Venezuelan Olympic showjumper Emanuel Andrade have been seized by the FBI, according to US newspaper reports.
The Miami Herald revealed that the animals were removed during a raid on a farm in Wellington, Florida on 17 November.
The property belongs to the showjumper’s father Alejandro Andrade, the ex-treasurer of Venezuela, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison last week (27 November) for money-laundering.
The federal case involved Raul Gorrin, the owner of Venezuela-based TV network Globovision, who is alleged to have paid bribes to Andrade. He has been charged as a co-conspirator but, according to court documents, is currently considered a fugitive. Gabriel Arturo Jimenez Aray, the former owner of the Banco Peravia in the Dominican Republic, has been sentenced to three years in prison for his participation in the conspiracy.
Andrade, 54, pleaded guilty to taking $1bn in bribes from Gorrin and others in exchange for offering access to preferential foreign currency exchange rates. He will begin his sentence on 25 February 2019.
The former bodyguard to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had been living in Wellington, where he was reported to own jets, mansions and a fleet of luxury vehicles alongside the 17 showjumping horses ridden by his 22-year-old son.
A press release from the Department of Justice and Social Affairs, issued on 20 November, said: “As part of his guilty plea, Andrade admitted that he received over $1 billion in bribes from Gorrin and other co-conspirators in exchange for using his position as Venezuelan national treasurer to select them to conduct currency exchange transactions for the Venezuelan government.
“As part of his plea agreement, Andrade agreed to a forfeiture money judgment of $1billion and forfeiture of all assets involved in the corrupt scheme, including real estate, vehicles, horses, watches, aircraft and bank accounts.”
The Chronicle of the Horse reported that the 17 showjumpers seized included Hardrock Z (pictured top) and Bonjovi, as well as Anastasia Du Park, Boy IV, Clouwni, Cortina 186, Dipssy, Jenni’s Chance, Joli Jumper, Leonardo RGS, Nokia De Brekka, Quilina VD Laarseheide Z, Reus De La Nutria, Ricore Courcelle, Tupac Van De Vrombautshoeve 2, U and Tinker Bell.
The 15-year-old stallion Hardrock Z was Emanuel’s ride for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where they finished in 61stplace individually. The combination also competed in the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France as well as claiming individual 6th place at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Gerco Schröder's Olympic ride London has been sold, but it is expected that he will keep the ride
Take advantage of our sale on Horse & Hound magazine subscriptions today
The London 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning stallion has been sold at public auction in Northern Ireland as part of bankruptcy
An order for interlocutory sale regarding the seized properties was released by the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida on 19 November.
“The court having reviewed the United States’ unopposed motion for interlocutory sale of certain assets subject to forfeiture, and finding that the expense of maintaining the horses, real properties, vehicles and watches pending their final forfeiture would dissipate their value,” the order stated.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday