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Dienstag, 22. Dezember 2015

Venezuelan in Houston Linked to $1 Billion in PDVSA Bribes

Venezuelan in Houston Linked to $1 Billion in PDVSA Bribes

A Houston resident took part in a $1 billion bribery scheme to secure contracts with Venezuela’s state oil company, and is also connected to a former head of military intelligence wanted for alleged cocaine trafficking, according to court papers.
Roberto Rincon-Fernandez, a Venezuelan national, was ordered held without bail on charges of conspiring to launder money and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with Petroleos de Venezuela SA, according to an order signed Dec. 19 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson.
She said Rincon “has significant assets which could fund a fugitive life-style” and there’s a “serious risk” he could flee.
Rincon has a “close personal friendship” with retired Venezuelan General Hugo Carvajal, who was arrested in Aruba on Rincon’s private aircraft and later released, according to the order. Carvajal is wanted in the U.S. for drug trafficking and Aruba has declined to extradite him, court paper said.

108 Bank Accounts

Rincon, who holds a tourist visa, has been living in the Houston for about 10 years, owns a $5 million house, and has 108 bank accounts, the magistrate wrote. About $750 million was traced to Rincon between 2010 and 2013, according to Johnson’s order.
Rincon “has the means to flee anywhere and support himself for the rest of his life,” Johnson wrote.
In all the alleged schemes, bribes were paid to PDVSA officials to get Rincon-affiliated companies on a short list entitled to bid for contracts, and in some cases, he concealed his control of the companies so that PDVSA officials weren’t aware that all bidders were under his control, according to court papers.
Gary Siller, a lawyer for Rincon, didn’t immediately return voice and e-mail messages seeking comment. A spokesman for PDVSA declined to comment.
The case is U.S. V. Rincon-Fernandez, 15-cr-654, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

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