03:24 GMT19 January 2021
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    The six were arrested by Venezuelan authorities during corporate meetings in Caracas back in 2017 and were charged with embezzlement, contract malfeasance and money laundering.

    Six former executives at Citgo Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned energy company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), have been sentenced to between 8 and 13 years in prison over a corruption scheme, the Supreme Court of Justice said on Twitter on Thursday.

    While the official text of the press release is not available at the moment, local media reported that one of the convicted, Jose Pereira, the former president of Citgo, was given the maximum sentence of 13 years in prison on charges of embezzlement, contract malfeasance, and criminal conspiracy. The five others, Tomeu Vadell, Gustavo Cardenas, Jorge Toledo, Alirio Jose Zambrano, and Jose Luis Zambrano, received an 8-year prison sentence.

    Their defence has already said that they will appeal the court decision.

    In August, the US Department of Justice said in a news release that a former official at Citgo, Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio, was charged with involvement in a bribery and corruption scheme. The indictment alleged that beginning in or around 2013 and continuing through at least 2019, De Jongh agreed to accept bribe payments from businessmen and companies conducting business with Citgo and PDVSA. In return, he allegedly provided improper business advantages to those businessmen to assist them with procuring Citgo and PDVSA contracts.

    oil, payments, bribery, US, Venezuela
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