A Miami businessman accused of servicing Venezuela’s fleet of Russian fighter jets in violation of U.S. sanctions was denied bail as a federal judge determined he was a flight risk due to extensive ties with the South American country’s military
Jorge Nobrega is a prosperous Miami businessman who sold foam to the Venezuelan air force — but U.S. authorities say this was a military-grade foam used to protect fuel tanks in its fleet of Russian-made planes from enemy fire.
On Sunday, Nobrega got arrested.
The advantage to Nobrega’s service is that the Venezuelan military did not have to send the wings to Russia to be repaired — the relining of the fuel tanks could all be done by his company in Venezuela, according to prosecutor Kurt Lunkenheimer.
But Nobrega, who described his technique as akin to “dialysis,” did not obtain a license or waiver from the U.S. government to export the foam to Venezuela and service its military planes, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed Monday in federal court.
Nobrega was recorded in phone conversations discussing the purchase, sale and export of the foam with a Homeland Security Investigations confidential source, and he also exchanged WhatsApp messages and emails with the informant, according to the criminal affidavit. Starting in 2018, Nobrega discussed “the illicit export scheme” and how to hide the payments with the HSI source, the affidavit says.