Citgo Implicated In Bribery and Financial Crimes
June 5, 2019
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Venezuela, has pleaded guilty to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related charges in the ongoing investigation into bribery at Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and its Houston-based subsidiary, Citgo. The Justice Department and its Southern District of Texas office has charged 21 people in connection with the investigation, 16 of whom have entered guilty pleas. The Houston federal court has been one of the busiest in the nation over the past ten years for cases involving foreign bribery because of the concentration of energy companies with global operations there. Houston accounted for about a quarter of the 26 cases brought by the DOJ in 2016 under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In the press release announcing the latest guilty plea, the DOJ stated that the defendant “admitted to making bribe payments to several PDVSA officials who were based in Houston and employed by Citgo.” In exchange for these bribes, “Citgo officials assisted his companies in obtaining contracts for new business, and provided inside information concerning the PDVSA bidding process.” Citgo claims independence from its Venezuelan parent and has so far avoided the severe sanctions leveled against PDVSA, but based on the latest plea, it is beginning to appear that the U.S. company has been part of ongoing and pervasive corruption.
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