Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Former PDVSA procurement manager jailed in bribery scheme linked to U.S. businesses

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A former procurement manager for Petróleos de Venezuela SA was sentenced to 70 months in prison for allegedly taking bribes to help U.S.-based businesses secure contracts with Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant and for obstructing U.S. prosecutors’ investigation, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Alfonzo Eliezer Gravina Munoz, 57 years old, allegedly received about $590,000 in bribes to help U.S. businessmen secure energy contracts with PdVSA from 2007 to 2014, the Justice Department said. He didn’t report the bribes as income on his tax return, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Gravina pleaded guilty in 2015 to a count of conspiring to commit money laundering and a count of making false statements on his tax return.

He was later indicted and pleaded guilty in 2018 to another count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. He allegedly concealed information about bribes paid to officials at Citgo Petroleum Corp., a U.S.-based PdVSA subsidiary, and warned another subject of the investigation about the details of the probe, according to the Justice Department. Prosecutors said his passing of information led to the destruction of evidence and the subject’s attempt to flee the U.S.

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“We’re pleased with the judge giving him a break of the incarceration and imposing no fines,” said Guy Womack of law firm Guy L. Womack & Associates PC, which represented Mr. Gravina.

Mr. Gravina was ordered to pay restitution of close to $215,000 to the Internal Revenue Service.

Efforts to reach PdVSA for comment weren’t immediately successful late Wednesday.

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