Friday, February 3, 2023

Arrest a former Miami lawmaker under federal investigation

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – A former Miami lawmaker who signed a $50 million consulting contract with the Venezuelan government has been arrested in connection with a federal criminal investigation, authorities said Monday.

David Rivera, a Republican who served in the US Congress from 2011 to 2013, was arrested Monday at the Atlanta airport, said Marlene Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Miami. He said a grand jury indicted Rivera last month, but that indictment is sealed and he cannot dispute the charges.

He said Rivera had an initial appearance on Monday in federal court in Atlanta. He was released from jail after posting bail hours later, the Federal Marshals Service announced.

Rivera’s attorney, Jeffrey Feldman, declined to comment, saying in a text message to The Associated Press that he “had not seen the indictment.”

Rivera had been under increasing pressure for more than two years after it emerged that he had won a major contract from the American affiliate of Venezuela’s state oil company, at the same time that President Nicolás Maduro was trying to ingratiate himself with the White House. Were. Early days of the Donald Trump administration.

Rivera’s company, Interamerican Consulting, was sued in 2020 by PDV USA, a local affiliate of Venezuelan-owned Citgo. The complaint claims the former lawmaker did nothing as part of a contract he signed in 2017 for three months of “strategic advice” to establish relationships with important US shareholders.

Rivera, 57, has claimed he is innocent and filed a countersuit against PDV USA, accusing the company of breach of contract and unjust enrichment for not paying him $30 million, which he claims was due. That’s still due.

Although Rivera’s contract was with a US entity, any work done on behalf of the Maduro government or Venezuelan business interests would have required him to register as a foreign lobbyist, which he did not do.

Files revealed as part of the lawsuit reveal that Rivera conducted her advisory work in concert with Raul Gorin, a Venezuelan businessman who has been a target of sanctions and faces money laundering charges in the United States. Used to be.

Correspondence filed in court as part of the lawsuit shows that Rivera and Gorín tried to arrange a meeting between Venezuela’s foreign minister and executives from the US oil company Exxon. As part of those efforts, he also implicated Rep. Pete Sessions, whose former Dallas district was home to Exxon.

Rivera and Gorin also discussed changes to concert ticket prices, which PDV USA lawyers say were coded in terms of bribery.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Rivera was a high-ranking legislator in Florida, where he served in the House from 2003 to 2010. During that time, she shared a Tallahassee residence with current U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who she eventually married and became the speaker. State House of Representatives.

Since then, Rivera has been embroiled in several election-related controversies, including a state investigation into his plan to quietly fund an undisclosed Democratic candidate to stand against his main rival in the South Florida race. -dollar contract with a gambling company. That investigation also included the possible misuse of campaign funds to pay for state house activities that had already been reimbursed by the state.

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Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Nation World News Desk
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