Maikel Moreno’s petty cash box received more than US$ 91 million in 2018
During 2018, the Forensic Gazette Foundation of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) received, through six additional credits, Bs.S. 2,908,918,973.7, which is equivalent to more than US$ 91 million at the official rate according to official exchange rate system Dicom.
The Forensic Gazette Foundation was created in 1982 as the TSJ’s publishing house. Its function had been to edit, publish, distribute and market books, magazines, brochures, newspapers, agendas, calendars and any other means of disseminating academic research in socio-legal matters. Also that of institutional promotion and the digitalization of the judgments, agreements, resolutions and rulings issued by the institutions that make up the Judicial Branch.
However, in Official Gazette number 41,338 of 8 February 2018, a new function was added: that of «coordinating with the TSJ, as the governing body of the Judicial Branch, and with public and private actors, both national and foreign, operating in matters of health, food, housing, recreation, transport and other social benefits that affect the good living of the Judiciary workers and its environment.»
This gazette also states that the foundation, in addition to expanding its area of action, would be under the direct supervision of the Presidency of the Judiciary’s governing and not under the direction of the 32 justices that make up the full chamber.
In this case, the highest authority is Maikel José Moreno Pérez, president of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and president of the Criminal Appellate Chamber, who can establish the foundation policies, supervises the fulfillment of objectives, establishes remunerations and bonuses, and basically handle the entity as his petty cash box.
It should be noted that this decision was made ten months before its publication in the gazette, on 17 May 2017.
US$ 91 million only in additional credits
The Forensic Gazette Foundation received six additional credits during 2018, of which five were “to cover budgetary requirements, which highlights the expenses of active staff, pensioners and retirees of the organs and entities of the National Public Administration, as well as the pensioners of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) in their different contingencies.”
However, the additional credit approved in June 2018 to «guarantee the necessary conditions for compliance with the constitutional functions assigned to that governing body of the Judicial Power» was the one with the greatest value. At that time, Bs. 5 trillion were approved, which was equivalent to the official exchange rate (Bs. 80,000), to a little more than US$ 71 million.
The review of more than 300 official gazettes, pertaining to 2018, as part of Vendata, the collaborative project of opening data led by the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (Venezuela’s Press and Society Institute, IPYS) and Transparencia Venezuela, confirmed how Maikel Moreno’s petty cash box has been enlarging.
An opaque foundation
In Vendata, we did not have access to the initial budget of the decentralized entities for 2018, so we do not know how much money the Forensic Gazette Foundation managed. The only available information is that of the additional credits.
Already in 2017, Transparencia Venezuela published in the note entitled Government granted the TSJ more than Bs. 100 billion to be spent in 45 days that the Forensic Gazette Foundation handled 14.45% of the TSJ total resources for that year.
They also quoted an alternate justice, who asked to maintain his/her identity in anonymity: «In recent years, through that foundation many things besides being the documentation center of the TSJ have been made. That figure was used to cover funeral or medical expenses to the officials in trouble and to anything else that occurs to the directors, which deviated from its original purpose and mission. Now, through it, the food bags that workers and retirees of the TSJ receive are paid.»
When talking with workers of the judiciary, this statement could be reaffirmed, and although many employees were grateful to Moreno with the bonuses and food bags delivered in December 2018, everything points to the fact that he only had to reach out his petty cash box in the form of a foundation.