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Venezuela’s Cabello Accuses Capriles Party Lawmakers of Graft

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Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello accused lawmakers from the party of former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski of receiving financial contributions without declaring them to the electoral board.

Cabello, an ally of President Hugo Chavez, showed photocopies of checks allegedly received by lawmaker Richard Mardo, including one for 200,000 bolivars ($46,512) during a speech broadcast on state television. He played a recorded phone call allegedly involving Capriles Radonski’s father, Henrique Capriles Garcia, where a cash contribution for the opposition candidate, who lost to Chavez in October elections, was discussed.

“If we had all the checks, it’d fill a truck,” Cabello said on state television. “Ultimately this involves the entire Primero Justicia party. This is a cartel using politics to do business.”

The corruption accusations come amid speculation that Chavez, who is being treated for an undisclosed cancer in Cuba, won’t be able to complete his new six-year term, leading to presidential elections later this year. Chavez, 58, hasn’t been seen or heard from since his fourth cancer-related operation Dec. 11.

More evidence of corruption involving other members of the Primero Justicia party will be presented, Cabello said. Capriles Radonski expelled lawmaker Juan Carlos Caldera from Primero Justicia in September after state television broadcast a video showing him taking money from a man who wanted help setting up a meeting with Capriles.

Cabello said he would submit the evidence to the congressional comptroller committee.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net; Corina Pons in Caracas at crpons@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net