1. El Aissami goes at it:
Venezuela Arrests Opposition Lawmaker, Allegedly Finds Weapons in Vehicle. The arrest of Gilber Caro of the Popular Will party was one of the first actions by an anticoup command unit led by Vice President Tareck El Aissami.
Mr. Caro’s detention came one day after Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislature approved a resolution declaring Mr. Maduro in abandonment of his duties. The leftist leader, polls show, is blamed by most Venezuelans for the country’s punishing economic crisis and a homicide rate that is among the world’s highest.
Mr. Maduro in turn blames his country’s problems on his political rivals. His recent naming of Mr. El Aissami, a hard-liner in the ruling Socialist Party, to the nation’s No. 2 post has been seen by analysts as a radical turn by his administration as it looks to fight off a recall drive.
Who is Tareck el Aissami? Venezuela's new VP is a proper thug. https://t.co/C72RuGTKAR
— Alek Boyd (@alekboyd) January 4, 2017
2. ConocoPhillips Sues Russia’s Rosneft & Venezuela’s PDVSA for Fraud in CITGO Transfer
The Houston, Texas-based ConocoPhillips claims PDVSA fraudulently transferred 49.9% of Citgo Holding Inc. as collateral for a loan from Russia’s Rosneft PJSC, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware. While the suit alleges the loan was for $1.5 billion, Venezuela has declined to confirm the amount.
LAHT has the originating complaint at the link.
3. Eight have plead guilty by now: 2 More Guilty Pleas in USA to Venezuela’s Billion Dollar PDVSA Bribery Scheme
Juan Jose Hernandez Comerma, 51, of Weston, Florida, pleaded guilty in federal court in Houston to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and one count of violating the FCPA.
Charles Quintard Beech III, 46, of Katy, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA.
. . .
Venezuelan businessmen Roberto Rincon and Abraham Jose Shiera were arrested in Houston and Miami, respectively, by the U.S. authorities on charges of fraud and money laundering involving Venezuela state-owned oil company PDVSA in December of 2015.
Shiera resided in Coral Gables, a rich suburb of Miami, Florida, and Rincon lived in a $5 million mansion in The Woodlands in the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas.
According to a court order in the case, from 2009 to 2014, more than $1 billion was traced to the conspiracy, with $750 million linked to Rincon.
Rincon’s arrest has a symbolic importance for the U.S. due to his alleged closeness to former director of the Venezuelan military intelligence, Gen. Hugo Carvajal, who is wanted in the U.S. for drug-trafficking offenses related to the FARC and who was arrested in July 2014 in the Dutch island of Aruba.
The Dutch authorities subsequently released Carvajal, owing to his diplomatic immunity as a consul of the island, and he returned to Venezuela where he received the backing of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who called the incident a “kidnapping.”
In October, the U.S. also arrested and charged former Venezuelan police officer Pedro Luis Martin Olivares, another alleged collaborator of Carvajal, according to the Attorney General’s Office of the Southern District of Florida.
Rincon and Shieras pled guilty to the indictment which said five PDVSA officials, whom it did not name, received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes made principally in the form of wire transfers but also through mortgage payments, airlines tickets and, in one case, whiskey.
4. Thor Halvorssen describes How Venezuela’s corrupt socialists are looting the country to death
I sued a group of Venezuelan criminals, accusing them of corruption in a Florida courtroom. The defendants starred in the most notorious case of sleaze inside Venezuela: the Derwick Associates case.
Imagine a group of 20-something American-educated Venezuelans who have never had any experience whatsoever in government contracting, let alone building power plants.
In 14 months, they obtained 12 contracts to build electric power plants for the government. They hired an American company to build nonfunctioning plants and then overbilled Venezuela’s government by more than $1 billion. These “Chavezkids” (Bolichicos) shamelessly bribed government officials.
And what did they do with the stolen money? They used US, Canadian and Andorran banks to launder and conceal the cash.
Read the whole thing.