US authorities are investigating PdVSA

Authorities in the US have launched investigations into Venezuela’s state-owned oil company on corruption allegations, including possible involvement in the black market currency exchange and money laundering.

Earlier this month, US prosecutors and federal agents met to coordinate actions on multiple probes into Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant, Petroleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), according to the Wall Street Journal

US authorities are investigating whether PdVSA provided billions of dollars in kickbacks for Venezuelan leaders, and if it was involved in the black market exchange and money laundering schemes, the Journal said.

In March 2015, the US Department of the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a statement saying that more than $4 billion in Venezuelan money was laundered through the Andorran bank Banca Privada d’Andorra, half of which had been “siphoned” from PdVSA.

The allegations came as part of a wider FinCEN investigation into the bank, which was also accused of laundering money for Russian and Chinese criminal organizations.

Since the initial accusations, the US and Spain have investigated the financial dealings of top PdVSA executives, including Diego Salazar and Rafael Ramirez, who is now Venezuela’s ambassador to the United Nations.

Documents from these investigations highlight the use of shell companies and kickbacks by Salazar and others to move millions of dollars and turn high personal profits, the Journal reported.

InSight Crime Analysis

The corruption investigations further mar the already poor reputation of PdVSA, and highlight the deep-seated involvement of Venezuela’s high-level officials in criminal activities.

The Council on Foreign Relations says that PdVSA accounts for 25 percent of Venezuela’s Gross Domestic Product and 50 percent of government revenue, and the country depends heavily on such funds to support social services. Yet the company has been plagued by widespread corruption and financial malfeasance, weakening profits and hampering services. 

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles 

The current investigation is reflective of rampant issues in the state-owned oil company. In January 2015, a former Venezuelan security chief made allegations that PdVSA airplanes were used to transport illegal drugs. And in February, authorities arrested PdVSA’s production boss and an oil ministry employee on corruption charges.

Such criminal activities seem to pervade many of Venezuela’s institutions at the highest levels. The country’s major drug trafficking organization, the Cartel los Soles, is made up of corrupt officials throughout the military. And multiple high-level arrests have demonstrated that strong ties between government officials and criminal organizations are the norm.   

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Prev Next

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

Trafficking Firearms in Honduras

The weapons trade within Honduras is difficult to monitor. This is largely because the military, the country's sole importer, and the Armory, the sole salesmen of weapons, do not release information to the public. The lack of transparency extends to private security companies, which do not have...

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Trafficking Firearms Into Honduras

Honduras does not produce weapons,[1] but weapons are trafficked into the country in numerous ways. These vary depending on weapon availability in neighboring countries, demand in Honduras, government controls and other factors. They do not appear to obey a single strategic logic, other than that of evading...

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Counting Firearms in Honduras

Estimates vary widely as to how many legal and illegal weapons are circulating in Honduras. There are many reasons for this. The government does not have a centralized database that tracks arms seizures, purchases, sales and other matters concerning arms possession, availability and merchandising. The laws surrounding...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Power

  The Bajo Cauca Franchise BACRIM-Land Armed Power Dynamics The BACRIM in places like the region of Bajo Cauca are a typical manifestation of Colombia's underworld today: a semi-autonomous local cell that is part of a powerful national network.

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

Closing the Gaps on Firearms Trafficking in Honduras

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is inconsistent and unclear as to the roles of different institutions, while the regulatory system is insufficiently funded, anachronistic and administered by officials who are overworked or susceptible to...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Murder

  Life of a Sicario Anatomy of a Hit   The BACRIM's control over territories such as the north Colombian region of Bajo Cauca comes at the point of a gun, and death is a constant price of their power.

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

InSide Colombia's BACRIM: Money

  Drugs Extortion Criminal Cash Flows Millions of dollars in dirty money circulate constantly around Bajo Cauca, flowing upwards and outwards from a broad range of criminal activities. The BACRIM are the chief regulators and beneficiaries of this shadow economy.

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

Venezuela Prisons: 'Pranes' and 'Revolutionary' Criminality

In May 2011, a 26-year-old prison gang leader held 4,000 members of the Venezuelan security forces, backed by tanks and helicopters, at bay for weeks. Humiliated nationally and internationally, it pushed President Hugo Chávez into a different and disastrous approach to the prison system.