Updated 04:23 PM EDT, Sat, Jul 11, 2020

U.S Arrests Businessmen Connected to Venezuelan Oil Company, Charged with Money-Laundering & Corruption

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After bribery claimed to win contracts with Venezuela's government-run oil company, two Venezuelan businessmen who are living in the United States were charged on Monday with fraud and money laundering, a week after they were arrested by US Authorities.

The New York Times said Tradequip Services & Marine president Roberto Rincón and manager of oil sector supplier Vertix Instrumentos Abraham Siera were charged "with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

This law states that individuals and businesses who bribe government officials in other countries for their own gain are violators.

Court documents obtained by the same report showed that Rincon has already entered a not guilty plea, while Shiera has yet to enter one.

It was also noted that the contracts involved in the bribery scheme were worth more than $1 billion.

Because of these cases, corrupt practices inside the oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa) were also highlighted, and these reportedly happened during the industry boom from the previous decade.

According to The New York Times, documents also revealed that about $750 million was traced to Rincon from 2010 to 2013. The businessman also reportedly bribed a single official with a huge sum of $2.5 million.

The money was believed to have been used to bribe oil company officials and even their families and relatives with lavish trips, hotel reservations and expensive drinks.

A similar Latin America Herald Tribune report mentioned that Rincon was arrested in Houston, while Shiera was captured in Miami by United States authorities last week.

It noted that the arrest of Rincon proved important since he was allegedly linked to Gen. Hugo Carvajal, the ex-Venezuelan military intelligence director, who was previously hunted for drug-trafficking charges.

He was finally captured in July last year in Aruba, but was released because of his diplomatic immunity as a consul of the Dutch island.

The same report added that after his release, Carvajal went back to Venezuela and got the support of President Nicolas Maduro, who tagged the former's arrest as a "kidnapping."

Business Insider also said that Rincon was denied bail by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson because of his "close personal friendship" with the former military head. Siera is also held without bail because of the charges he is currently facing.

It is still unclear if the charges against the two businessmen are related to Rincon's business.

Both Tradequio and PDVSA have not yet commented on the issues involving them, Business Insider noted in its report.

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