VERIFIED COMPLAINT AGAINST DEFENDANT THE BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA
Plaintiffs Fernando Fraiz Trapote ("Mr. Fraiz") and Maria Clara Vallejo Tascon ("Ms. Vallejo") (collectively, "Plaintiffs") bring this action against Defendant the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ("Venezuela," "Venezuelan Government," or "Defendant") and allege as follows:
1. This action seeks compensation for Venezuela's wrongful expropriation of Plaintiffs' property in the United States and abroad.
2. As part of a campaign to nationalize all the means of telecommunication and publicity in the country, the Venezuelan Government, through a sham judicial proceeding, expropriated Plaintiffs' assets, including Plaintiffs' popular television station, their outdoor advertisement company, their private residence, and other private companies and investments in Venezuela and the United States. The expropriation of Plaintiffs' assets violated international law, as the expropriation did not serve a public purpose, was motivated by political animus, and was not accompanied by just compensation.
3. In furtherance of this wrongful expropriation, the Junta Interventora or Expropriation Board (the "Expropriation Board") was appointed in the sham judicial action to take and seize Plaintiffs' assets.
4. Members of the illegitimate Expropriation Board came to the United States to seize Plaintiffs' assets in the United States pursuant to the illegitimate expropriation orders. To this end, the Expropriation Board sought to intervene and take over Plaintiffs' interest in an action for infringement of intellectual property (LaTele Television, C.A. v. Telemundo Communications Group, LLC, et al., Case No. 1:12-cv-22539 (the "Telemundo Action")) and in an action for the fraudulent conversion of U.S. $72,000,000 in United States Treasury Bills (Publicidad Vepaco, C.A. and LaTele Television, C.A. v. Nelson Mezerhane and Rogelio Trujillo, Case No. 11- 4271CA04 (the "Mezerhane/ Trujillo Action")). In these actions, the Expropriation Board substituted Plaintiffs' interests as the owner by expropriation of the underlying United States property, to wit: (i) the intellectual property rights at issue in the Telemundo Action and (ii) the U.S. $72,000,000 in Treasury Bills in the Mezerhane / Trujillo Action.
5. Further, because of the expropriation, Plaintiffs were also deprived of their interest in Urban Advertising of America, Inc. which had, inter alia, a contract with Miami-Dade County, Florida, to commercialize outdoor advertisements in transportation facilities, with a value of more than U.S. $100,000,000.
6. Plaintiffs are entitled to sue for compensation for the expropriation of their property in the United States pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3), which makes clear that a foreign state is not immune in an action "in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue and that property or any property exchanged for such property is present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state; or that property or any property exchanged for such property is owned or operated by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in a commercial activity in the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3).
7. In total, the Government of Venezuela has expropriated Plaintiffs' assets in excess of U.S. $200,000,000 in the United States and in excess of U.S. $1,000,000,000 in Venezuela, which Plaintiffs are entitled to recover pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(3).
104. Mr. Fraiz filed a demand for arbitration against Venezuela in the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but this arbitration was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction on January 31, 2022.
105. All the local remedies available to Plaintiffs in Venezuela or in any other jurisdiction have been satisfied or are otherwise futile.
106. Consequently, this litigation ensued.