Who are the most powerful people in Guatemala?
Some may say that its the richest ones, others might say that its politicians – President and his Ministers. But apparently its those in whose hands is the legal system. They can prosecute whomever they please or cover from prosecution those they protect. To put it simply, if someone has the legal system under control they become virtually unstoppable.
How Cutino ring operates
The ring begins with law firms that offer foreigners legal assistance in receiving a second citizenship. In Guatemala the law firm was called Cutino International and it was headquarters for all their other firms. They attract customers through their website and through extensive network of their members. This is the original website that they had some years back.
As you can see they offer citizenship of various countries including Guatemala, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica and others. Their fee is around $ 50’000 per person. We found them when the political persecution against our family began. After our daughter was kidnapped we decided to leave Russia for good and move to another country. Guatemala seemed like a good choice because it was as far away from Russia as can be and doesn’t have extradition treaty. So we contacted Cutino law firm through this web page, explained them the situation and were invited to Guatemala. Here alone they made tens of thousands of documents for foreigners, we can only assume that in other countries they did the same.
Upon our arrival to Guatemala we were brought to Cutino’s offices. It was a gorgeous building in the city center with dozens of people working. The leaders of the firms were Marcos Cutino, Kennet Biderman and Renato Ceverino. Kennet Biderman was the one talking to us online but in Guatemala we spoke directly to Marcos Cutino. After listening to our concerns about the political persecution from Russian government, Marcos offered us to change our personal data in Guatemalan documents. We were surprised at this proposition and asked if that service was truly legal. Marcos laughed and casually showing us a framed photo of him and Guatemalan president (at the time it was Alvaro Colom), said that all their services are absolutely legal, that the documents are issued in governmental institutions, signed by governors, ministers and sub-directors of Migration Office so there is nothing to worry about. It was not exactly so but we found out about the anomalies only years later.
Governors are the first ones that a foreigner receiving Guatemalan citizenship will meet. They issue cedulas – a local identification document. Cedula was a small paper document which had your basic information in it: full name, place of birth and date of birth. We were taken to departments of Guazacapan and Fraijanes where governors of those departments issued and signed our cedulas.
Every year they issue thousands of cedulas to foreigners brought by Cutino. According to inacif those cedulas are authentic.
General Directorate of Migration
The next step is General Directorate of Migration, here certificates of permanent residence are issued. Those certificates confirm that a foreigner already lived in Guatemala for 2 years and can receive permanent residence. They are inscribed in cedulas and the foreigner receives a special pink document from Deputy Director of Migration Office. Those documents are also authentic but are issued in an anomalous way without the foreigner passing the necessary requirements. Most of those residences were issued by Mayra Yojana Veliz Lopez. The interesting thing here is that Mayra Veliz occupied the post of sub-director of Migration Office only for one month – in March of 2007 – but she kept issuing residences for many years afterwards.
Sub-directors that issued permanent residences: Mayra Yojana Veliz Lopez, Manuel De Jesus Ajcet Panchoy, Manuel Vicente Roca Martinez, Edgar Guillermo Sanchez Giron, Carlos Alberto Pac Lopez
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues the most important document: resolution of the governmental agreement of naturalization. Interesting that here most of naturalization documents were issued by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs – Carlos Raúl Morales Moscoso. He signed final documents confirming naturalization, but records of foreigners who received it do not exist.
National Registry of People – RENAP
- In RENAP one receives local identification document called DPI. DPI is like a national passport, it identifies the person inside the country. Once Cutino had all the documentation in order, they would accompany a foreigner to National Registry of People. Here some questions are asked confirming the identity of the person, Cutino’s lawyers always answered those question for foreigners. Then photos and fingerprints are taken and finally RENAP issues the document.
- Director of RENAP (July 2012 – June 2016) Rudy Gallardo investigated and denounced Cutino crime ring. He was then falsely accused by corrupt prosecutors and imprisoned.
Cutino crime ring had its own people in RENAP. They could issue DPIs without the presence of foreigners. To do so they used fingerprints of children who were not registered in RENAP yet. In 2014 when Rudy Gallardo was doing his investigation he discovered two workers of RENAP who issued 106 DPIs in this way. This was only the tip of the iceberg.
General Directorate of Migration 2
Then one goes back to General Directorate of Migration – this time to receive a passport. It is authorized by Sub-Director of International Identifications of Migration Office – Wolfang Janeiro Barrera Bravo and the Technician of Migration Actions of International Identifications of Migration Office – Julio Alberto Lopez Orozco .
As you can see through this procedure the documents come out authentic and function as a normal Guatemalan passport would. Cutino’s people even found a way to issue documents without the foreigners presence in Guatemala. That is to say one can “order” Guatemalan citizenship from another country and Cutino’s representative will bring it to you.
To summarize the mechanism of Cutino’s operations:
- Cutino’s people bring in foreigners offering them second citizenship and assuring that the whole procedure is legal.
- Governors issue cedulas.
- General Directorate of Migration issues permanent residencies.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues naturalization documents.
- National Registry of People (RENAP) issues DPI.
- General Directorate of Migration issues passports.
After years of operations the word came out in certain circles about Cutino ring. By that time so many public officials were involved that they got a “protection” from some of the most powerful individuals in Guatemala, namely head of CICIG – Ivan Velasquez and attorney general – Thelma Aldana. They were tasked with creating an appearance of disbanding the ring and that’s how Migration Case originated. It was originally called “Passport Falsifiers”. They selected 40 scapegoats on whom to blame the crimes of an entire crime ring. The scapegoats were all low-level clerks from various governmental institutions and the airport. Incredibly some of them were workers of RENAP who noticed their bosses participation in Cutino ring and reported them. Instead of justice they got arrested and accused of the crimes which they themselves reported.
We came into the picture when Kremlin found us in Guatemala. Kremlin first asked state-owned VTB Bank to act against us so the bank presented an accusation in Metropolitan Police Office. They falsely accused us of taking a loan and fleeing the country with that money but had no evidence to support that claim so the case was dismissed. What they did next is to get aboard two of most influential lawyers of Guatemala. VTB Bank issued mandate to Henry Compte and Gazprombank issued mandate to Alfonso Carillo who was a good friend of Ivan Velasquez. The head of CICIG then asked attorney general to prosecute us. That’s how a new strategy to persecute our family was created. We were accused of altering and usurping civil status and of use of fake documents and were thrown into Passport Falsifiers case. After including us in that case, it was renamed to Migration Case. Here CICIG acted against us together with FECI, Public Ministry, RENAP and VTB Bank. After imprisoning us, taking our 3 years old son to an orphanage and accusing us of these absurd crimes they all expected that we will agree to a voluntary extradition to Russia but that meant death sentence for us so we fought back. What they didn’t expect is that the case will be known internationally for its abuses of human rights and all their crimes will come up.
Migration Case VS the real investigation
Throughout the Migration Case CICIG and FECI attempted to manipulate public opinion by stating that they have investigated and disbanded a criminal structure which issued fake documents. Meanwhile they hid the real investigations against Cutino ring. The first one was done by RENAP – DIG1 158-2014; the second one was done by Public Ministry’s division of administrative crimes – MP 001-2015-5927. Let’s see the timeline.
- January 2015 – two criminal cases began about the same event of certain crime ring’s operations within governmental institutions issuing identification documents in anomalous way.
- January 15, 2015 – our family is captured and charged with suppression and alteration of civil status and with use of fake documents.
- January 20, 2015 – RENAP filed independently two accusations – one is against 106 foreigners for receiving documents in anomalous way and the second is against 2 RENAP workers for issuing those documents.
- We were not included in RENAP’s case against 106 foreigners because our case originated from VTB Bank’s independent investigation which was then supported by CICIG and FECI.
The fact that our case originated from investigation and accusation of VTB Bank is interesting because Russian state-owned banks are not permitted to act on Guatemalan territory. By supporting the bank CICIG violated its mandate many times over. It was created to investigate Clandestine Apparatuses of Security, not to help a foreign bank in its domestic disputes with immigrants by imprisoning and torturing the whole family.
In the timeline above you can see that there were 2 parallel investigations going on about the same crimes. One resulted in the case against our family. The second one into real crime ring was buried. There is a number of points to note here:
- CICIG decides to prosecute a family of immigrants who believed that their documents were legitimate and thus were deceived. Meanwhile CICIG hides the investigation about the real crime ring that issued those documents.
- Ivan Velasquez and Thelma Aldana transfer public attention to our case deeming us as criminals before the first trial could even begin while protecting members of Cutino ring.
- Both CICIG and Public Ministry throw all their resources to act against our family. The following letter was sent by Ivan Velasquez to Thelma Aldana asking her to transfer our case to FECI – an organ created between CICIG and Public Ministry to deal with high profile political cases.
Now let’s see the real investigation. It was started by Rudy Gallardo – director of RENAP. He noticed that Cutino ring was operating in his institution and denounced it. The investigation DIG1 158-2014 was headed by prosecutor of Department of Administrative Crimes called Heidi Tamara de Leon.
Neither CICIG nor FECI paid any attention to the real investigation despite the fact that director of RENAP continuously insisted that they should look into it.
Rudy Gallardo asked for a meeting with Thelma Aldana in attempt to convince her to do her job. When he arrived to the meeting instead of Thelma Aldana he found Mayra Veliz who now was general secretary of public ministry. It is the same woman who signed permanent residences for foreigners and was part of Cutino crime ring.
Back then Rudy didn’t know that Mayra Veliz was one of the heads of Cutino ring. He arrived to the meeting accompanied by head investigator of RENAP and head of juridical department of RENAP. Up to the last moment they believed the meeting will be with Thelma Aldana. In her opening line Mayra Veliz said that the general attorney is busy, she then asked Rudy to stop looking into this matter. Her voice was tense and strangely hostile. She repeated a few times that Public Ministry is efficient enough to deal with this case on its own and that Rudy and his team shouldn’t continue with their investigation. It was shocking and Rudy couldn’t understand why Mayra Veliz would behave in such a way, after all he knew her from when he worked in public ministry as prosecutor.
Despite this attitude from public ministry Rudy was persistent in his investigation and requested a meeting with Ivan Velasquez. This time instead of Velasquez he was met by Cesar Rincon – one of CICIG’s lawyers. Nothing came out of this meeting either, CICIG denied to investigate Cutino crime ring.
We also asked CICIG and Public Ministry to investigate Cutino ring multiple times and each time our request was denied. In May of 2016 we filed 2 accusations against Cutino’s law firm. As you saw, we were accused of their crimes and obviously we couldn’t leave it at that. We presented these accusations in Public Ministry in front of CICIG. They were NEVER investigated. Both Public Ministry and CICIG covered up Cutino’s powerful members.
Here is a list of evidence that we submitted in our accusation:
- Personal data of Cutino’s members
- Documents of their companies
- Bank Accounts
- Identification documents of its members
- Photos of residences used by its members
- Cedula of Anastasia which was signed by Mayra Veliz and for which Anastasia was sentenced to 14 years of prison
We had more documents such as the one above with signatures of governmental officials. Those documents were confiscated from our house during arrest. It’s not a coincidence that no investigation was ordered into those particular documents and their origins.
Shockingly the accusations that we presented were “lost” by Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office. 3 years later US Senate got interested in our case, the Prosecutor’s Office then “found” our accusations. We were called to testify against Cutino ring and its members. Unfortunately this was only a spectacle because no investigation was started and the ring continues to operate.
Returning to Rudy Gallardo, on 20th of January 2015 RENAP filed an accusation against 106 foreigners and 2 RENAP workers – DIG1 158-2014. Department of Administrative Crimes was put in charge and started its own investigation into these crimes MP001-2015-5927. It discovered that some of the highest public officials were involved in Cutino ring. But strangely this investigation was never adjusted to the Migration Case.
Mayra Veliz has been regularly intervening with both investigations and demanded reports of their progress twice weekly.
Investigation made by Department of Administrative Affairs discovered that Cutino ring includes sub-directors of Migration, Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs, prosecutors and many other highly influential people. The most shocking for investigators was to find out that Mayra Yojana Veliz Lopez and Raul Morales Moscoso were at the head of the ring and its most active members.
Mayra Yojana Veliz Lopez is at the head of Cutino crime ring
Department of Administrative Crimes concluded that Mayra Veliz is one of the leaders of Cutino ring.
During March of 2007 she held position of sub-director of Migration Office for one month. From this moment on she had the seal of Migration Office and her signature was registered in governmental system. From 2014 to 2018 she was general secretary of Public Ministry and right hand of attorney general Thelma Aldana.
In 2011 Mayra Veliz signed, sealed and issued permanent residence to Anastasia. 4 years later Mayra Veliz prosecuted Anastasia for this document. Anastasia was sentenced to 14 years of prison. Mayra Veliz continued operations of Cutino ring with impunity.
Department of Administrative Crime found 75 permanent residences signed by Mayra Veliz personally.
Mayra Veliz reacted to accusations by lying that her signature was falsified. Experts from INACIF, numerous lawyers and notaries confirmed that her signature was authentic.
The list of lawyers who confirmed the signature of Mayra Veliz as authentic: Leonel Estuardo Estrada Gudiel, Ever Aguilera Toledo, Carlos Humberto Gonzalez Medrano, Jose Alfredo Solano Chuy, Cecilia Melendez, Carlos Enrique Samayoa Cifuentes, Mario Raul Aguilera Rodas, Leonel De Jesus Flores Lucero , Blanca Rosa Figueroa, Jose Augusto Martinez M.
Carlos Raúl Morales Moscosa
The second person confirmed to be at the head of Cutino ring is Carlos Raul Morales Moscosa. He was vice-minister of Foreign Affairs and then Minister of Foreign Affairs. Raul Morales had a quick rise to power, being promoted rapidly since Ivan Velasquez became head of CICIG. He was appointed as Minister of Foreign Affairs by President Otto Perez Molina and remained in office during 3 presidencies. In August of 2018 president Jimmy Morales issued an executive order declaring Ivan Velasquez “non grato” in Guatemala and expelled him from the country. Raul Morales refused to sign the executive order and was removed from office. In last presidential elections he postulated for post of vice-president in campaign of Sandra Torres. They lost the elections.
Raul Morales is a loyal friend of Mayra Veliz and Ivan Velasquez.
According to investigation of Department of Administrative Crimes he issued 69 false naturalization documents.
The end of investigation
Investigation started by RENAP which uncovered the truth about Mayra Veliz and Raul Morales was put to an end. This is how it happened:
- Mayra Veliz was following this investigation closely. She forced the prosecutors to report every detail to her.
- Mayra Veliz then prevented questioning of Director of Migration Office.
- Once participation of Mayra Veliz in Cutino ring was discovered it was reported to attorney general Thelma Aldana who immediately fired all investigators of RENAP who knew the truth.
- In 2016 when the investigation reached its peak, director of RENAP Rudy Gallardo was accused. These accusations were never proved in court but Rudy was imprisoned in pre-trial detention.
- Thelma Aldana sent a message to Rudy which said that prosecutors and judges of his case will never allow him to get out of prison. He remains there up to this date.
- Prosecutor who was in charge of the case – Heidi Tamara de Leon – received a death threat and is forced to renounce. She presented results of the investigation to Public Ministry. She then was absurdly accused together with her 9 years old daughter.
- Once the whole team participating in the investigation MP001-2015-5927 was eliminated, all evidence obtained during that investigation disappeared.
Now let’s see what happened with the investigation which originated from our accusations against Cutino ring.
CICIG, FECI and judges refused to accept any evidence that we submitted against the ring.
Head of Metropolitan Prosecutor’s Office – Luis Arturo Archila Alvarez ordered to archive the case against Cutino one day before the final trial of Igor Bitkov.
In November 2018 Igor Bitkov presented accusations against 25 public officials that are part of Cutino crime ring and against prosecutors who cover them up: Juan Francisco Sandoval, Stuart Campos, Mayra Veloz, Thelma Aldana among others.
The case fell in hands of Luis Archila who dismissed our earlier accusations against Cutino. He ordered to dismiss new accusations as well.
Accused by us prosecutors were chosen to participate in the trial against us in Migration Case and later in a separate trial against Igor Bitkov. For obvious reasons we recused them and their chief – Juan Francisco Sandoval. Incredibly this was resolved in favor of corrupt prosecutors allowing them to continue acting against us. This decision was made by deputy attorney general – Carla Isidra Valenzuela Elias – who, as it turned out later, was named by Mayra Veliz and Thelma Aldana.
In January 2018 our whole family was sentenced. Igor Bitkov – to 19 years of prison, Irina Bitkova – to 14 years of prison, Anastasia Bitkova – to 14 years of prison. We were accused of crimes committed by Cutino crime ring and sentenced without a single evidence supporting the accusations. Meanwhile Cutino ring continues its operations. In June of 2018 US Senate and Helsinki Commission got involved being appalled by injustice towards our family. They held a separate audience about our case where it was determined that we suffered great violations to human rights and to due process. Ivan Velasquez was asked for explanations. First he didn’t arrive to the audience and refused to say anything about our case, then he lied to US Senate stating that he knew nothing about us. As a result the funds of CICIG were frozen. Later Ivan Velasquez was declared “non grato” in Guatemala and CICIG seized to exist with a shameful finale. Despite all this, Cutino ring is still not investigated and continues as if nothing happened.
Who receives Guatemalan documents through Cutino crime ring?
According to investigation started by Rudy Gallardo, during only 2 months of 2014 106 foreigners received Guatemalan citizenship. Most of them never visited Guatemala.
In Migration case testified Jose Samayoa Cano who was director of “Corporation La Luz” – a firm that issued documents. According to him there were more than 5000 cases Hit during 2 years (2010 – 2012) of his work. Case Hit is when someone receives documents twice with two different names. When this happens an alert goes to Public Ministry and to Migration Office. Officials have to resolve it before that person can receive second passport. If we calculate from that number – in 10 years there should be more than 25’000 foreigners who receive second passport with a different name!
Some of the people who received these documents have wide international recognition.
We have evidence that the following individuals and their families received Guatemalan documents through Cutino crime ring which were signed by Mayra Veliz and Raul Morales.
Mussin Aslan – Politician from Kazakhstan.
1995 – 2006 – Governor of Akhtubinsk region
2006 – 2007 – Minister of Economy
2007 – 2008 – President of Congress
2008 – 2012 – Head of Administration of President of Kazakhstan.
2012 – 2014 – Controller General
He and his large family have received the citizenship of Guatemala in June 2014 through Mayra Veliz and Raul Morales.
Mohamed Fadi Mehio – Entrepreneur from Lebanon
- One of the most famous entrepreneurs in the Middle East
- Founder and President of the company Icflix – is analogous to Netflix and covers Arab countries.
He and his large family received the citizenship of Guatemala in June 2014.
Joseph Ghessoub – Entrepreneur from Lebanon
- President of International Advertising Association.
- President and founder of Menacom Group – leader in communications and advertisement in Middle East.
He and his large family have received the citizenship of Guatemala in June 2014.
Terrorists who received Guatemalan passports
One of Cutino’s representatives – Wendy Susana Juarez Peralta – traveled regularly to Dubai to deliver Guatemalan documents to their Arab clients. Among those clients was Hamed Mahmoudi who was in INTERPOL for terrorism since 2011. He received Guatemalan documents in June of 2014. There were other individuals in INTERPOL search who also received documents.
Cutino issues documents to anyone willing to pay without checking who his clients are. As we’ve seen in the example above, even those in search of INTERPOL for terrorism can easily obtain Guatemalan documents with new identity. Cutino also offers his clients to receive real functional Visa for United States. This represents a serious threat to international security as literally anyone can travel under a different identity to any country in the world.
It is shocking and disturbing that an international entity of ONU – CICIG – actively covers up transnational crime ring and its members. Despite numerous investigations and undeniable evidence this criminal organization continues to operate freely.
Mayra Veliz, Raul Morales, Ivan Velasquez, Thelma Aldana, Juan Francisco Sandoval, Estuardo Campos, Luis Archila among others have actively obstructed justice, destroyed evidence, corrupted public officials, imprisoned innocent people in order to protect Cutino crime ring. They captured and imprisoned Rudy Gallardo – ex-director of RENAP – for discovering their crimes. He remains in prison up to this date. They made death threats to prosecutor Heidi Tamara de Leon and forced her to resign. Including our accusations against this crime ring were hidden and not investigated despite US Senate’s attention to the case.
There is enough evidence to suggest that a real in-depth investigation will discover tens of thousands of documents issued in anomalous way by members of Cutino ring. Taking into account that a large number of powerful public officials is involved it’s unlikely that any regular prosecutor will be able to take on the case. It would be recommendable to create a separate department for investigation of such high impact transnational crimes. Collaboration between such a department and FBI would be necessary in order to stop Cutino crime ring.
Security of many countries is vulnerable because of Cutino crime ring. Most of all it’s United States, European Union and Israel who suffer long term consequences of its operations