Venezuelan Oil Servicing Magnate Arrested in US for Bribery

Venezuelan oil servicing magnate Roberto Rincon was indicted in US Federal Court Monday on alleged charges of paying bribes to secure contracts with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

By Lucas Koerner
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Roberto Rincon (tradequipsm.com).
Roberto Rincon (tradequipsm.com).

Philadelphia, December 21, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan oil servicing magnate Roberto Rincon was indicted in US Federal Court Monday on alleged charges of paying bribes to secure contracts with Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. 

President of the Texas-based oil-servicing firm Tradequip Services & Marine, Rincon was arrested together with fellow Venezuelan business associate Abraham Jose Shiera Bastidas on December 16and held without bail.  

Both men are accused of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in having allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to five unnamed PDVSA officials in return for access to lucrative contracts. 

According to court documents, the Venezuelan nationals secured $1 billion in PDVSA contracts between 2010 and 2013, with $750 million traced to Rincon alone. 

The bribes often took the form of mortgages, airline tickets, hotel reservations as well as direct wire transfers reportedly exchanged for contracts granted to Rincon’s various companies, which in turn received commissions for supplying substandard products and services at obscene prices or providing services existing merely on paper. 

Lawyers for the defendants have announced that their clients will plead not guilty in the case. It is unclear whether the trial will involve Tradequip, which still cites PDVSA as a client on its website and itself remains listed in the state oil giant’s national contractors registry.  

The millionaire businessmen form part of what dissident Chavistas have denounced as the so-called “boli-bourgeoisie”, comprising the new rich who amassed enormous fortunes by way of often unscrupulous practices under the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Nicolas Maduro. 

Under the banner of the Platform for a Public, Citizens’ Audit, various ex-government ministers including Hector Nevarro and Ana Elisa Osorio have demanded that the government account for hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds diverted abroad between 2004 and 2012. The Bolivarian government has yet to respond to the citizens’ petition.

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