May 11, 2018 / 8:27 PM / 7 months ago

Venezuela to seek extradition of oil businessmen from U.S

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela’s chief prosecutor on Friday said he was looking to extradite two prominent Venezuelan oil businessmen who are awaiting sentencing in Texas as part of a massive bribery scheme.

Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera were arrested in 2015 and have both pleaded guilty to bribing officials at state oil company PDVSA to win lucrative contracts.(reut.rs/2KXFKvs)

Socialist-run Venezuela originally slammed the probes as sabotage by the U.S government, its ideological foe.

But in a turnaround, PDVSA said in 2016 it was a “victim of fraud,” and its procurement arm Bariven asked a U.S. court to order Rincon and Shiera to compensate it for $600 million in losses.

On Friday prosecutor Tarek Saab said the men had participated in a wider scheme in which some $1.16 billion was embezzled from PDVSA.

“Both citizens should be here and the state prosecutor’s office will initiate all formalities so that they are at the order of the Venezuelan justice, as it should be,” Saab said in an announcement broadcast on state television.

His office is searching for another dozen people, Saab said, without providing details.

Reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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