04:15 GMT25 January 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Five former Venezuelan officials were charged for their alleged role in a bribery scheme related to contracts with the country's state-run energy company, the US Justice Department said in a press release.

    "Charges were unsealed today against five former Venezuelan government officials for their alleged participation in an international money laundering scheme involving bribes made to corruptly secure energy contracts from Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA)," the release said on Monday.

    One of the defendants, Cesar Rincon, was extradited from Spain on February 9, three remain in Spanish custody, and one remains at large, according to the release.

    Oil pumps are seen in Lake Maracaibo, in Lagunillas, Ciudad Ojeda, in the state of Zulia, Venezuela, March 20, 2015
    © REUTERS / Isaac Urrutia/File Photo
    The Justice Department alleges that the five defendants, all of whom were officials at either PDVSA or other government agencies, conspired to solicit bribes from vendors, including US residents, in exchange for providing assistance in connection with PDVSA business.

    "The indictment further alleges that the co-conspirators then laundered the proceeds of the bribery scheme through a series of complex international financial transactions, including to, from or through bank accounts in the United States, and, in some instances, laundered the bribe proceeds in the form of real estate transactions and other investments in the United State," the release said.

    All five defendants are citizens of Venezuela, and one a dual citizen of United States.


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    money laundering, financial crime, corruption, bribery, US Justice Department, PDVSA, Venezuela, US
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