Venezuela: Venezuela oil official sent to prison for 2 years for bribes

A former Venezuelan oil executive was sentenced to more than two years in prison for taking at least $12 million in bribes from businessmen who allegedly raided the coffers of the state-run oil company.

Abraham Ortega is the first former Venezuelan official to be sentenced as part of Operation Money Flight, a sweeping federal investigation out of Miami that has uncovered $1.2 billion in corruption at PDVSA, as the state oil company is known.

The investigation focused on a group of insider businessmen known as “Bolichicos” — for their ties to the Bolivarian Revolution started by the late Hugo Chávez — who used kickbacks to engineer bogus currency deals and other financial machinations with PDVSA that netted huge, overnight profits.

Judge Kathleen Williams’ 28-month sentence was less than half what prosecutors had been seeking in acknowledgement of his quick surrender and meaningful cooperation. Ortega has served as PDVSA’s top finance official between 2014 and 2016.

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