CARACAS Nov 24 Venezuela's PDVSA said on
Thursday it was taking legal action seeking compensation for a
$1 billion scheme in which two oil magnates paid bribes to
obtain lucrative contracts from the state oil company.
The two Venezuelan businessmen, Roberto Rincon and Abraham
Shiera, were arrested almost a year ago in the United States and
have pleaded guilty to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices
Caracas-based PDVSA initially slammed the case as part of a
wider U.S.-led conspiracy and "smear campaign" against
socialism. But in its 2015 financial statement, published in
July, PDVSA said an internal investigation found it had been the
victim of fraud.
On Thursday night, PDVSA said it had given its legal
representatives instructions to seek compensation in what is one
of Venezuela's biggest corruption cases.
"PDVSA's board of directors has authorized the start of
legal actions to ensure compensation for harm suffered due to
various types of fraud perpetrated by former contractors, who,
in complicity with former employees, obtained procurement
contracts via acts of corruption," the company's statement said.
The indictment of Rincon and Shiera said five PDVSA
officials received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes,
which were paid chiefly in the form of wire transfers but also
through mortgage payments, airline tickets and, in one case,
Critics have long accused PDVSA, the financial motor of
President Nicolas Maduro's leftist administration, of corruption
and say the Rincon-Shiera case is but the tip of the iceberg.
The company has maintained it is the target of a right-wing
smear campaign, led by the United States and compliant
international media, to sabotage its leftist administration.
It was not immediately clear what kind of legal action PDVSA
The company did not respond to a request for details.
A report by the opposition-led Venezuelan Congress accused
PDVSA of corruption last month, saying about $11 billion in
funds went missing while Rafael Ramirez, currently Venezuela's
U.N. envoy, was at the helm from 2004-14. Ramirez slammed the
report as "irresponsible lies."
The alleged $11 billion includes funds linked to the bribery
scheme involving Rincon and Shiera, who still await sentencing
in the United States.
(Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer and Corina Pons; Editing by Bill