Friday, January 27, 2023

Former Congressman’s aide arrested for contract with PDVSA appears in court

MIAMI, Dec 8 (IANS) Esther Knoofer, the partner of former US lawmaker David Rivera and, like her, accused of operating as an unregistered Venezuelan agent, made her first appearance before a federal court on Thursday, where her custody was set at $200,000 bail. was formalized and he was ordered to surrender his passport.

Bandi, a well-known Miami political consultant, also faces charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, among others, according to CBS.

The US Justice Department alleges that the two met with several US officials to try to normalize US relations with the Venezuelan government, without disclosing that they had signed a $50 million deal with the US subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela Co. The contract was signed. (PDVSA).

Rivera, who, like Nufer, faces eight federal charges, was arrested last Monday at the Atlanta airport in Georgia.

The 57-year-old Cuban-American, who was in Congress in Washington between 2011 and 2013, signed a contract with PDVSA’s North American subsidiary in 2017 to influence US politicians with a view to improving relations between the two countries. To be.

According to CNN, as part of the deal, both he and his partner were to stop “the United States from imposing additional economic sanctions” against the Venezuelan president and “other members of his regime”.

Both were indicted on November 16 by a federal grand jury from the Southern District of Florida.

According to the indictment, the two met with an unnamed Texas congressman, and Rivera later met with a White House adviser during President Donald Trump’s (2017-2021) administration, as well as a Florida senator, who was also not identified in the court brief. Was.

Senator Marco Rubio told CNN that he had a meeting with Rivera in 2017 and then another meeting attended by a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, where he reiterated that “the only way to lift sanctions is to Does the (Venezuelan) regime accept free and fair elections,” a spokesman for his office said.

“If, as alleged, this was an attempt to soften their position on sanctions, it failed miserably,” the spokesperson added to the series, which recalled that the Justice Department’s allegations highlighted that the defendants never informed the senator that “they were lobbying” on behalf of Venezuela.

CNN noted that Rubio is not named in the court brief, nor has he been accused of irregularities.

According to the network, the government is seeking the seizure of $23.7 million, in addition to various real estate assets.

Rivera’s company, Interamerican Consulting, was sued in 2020 by a PDV affiliate in the US, alleging that the former congressman did not perform any consulting work as part of a contract he signed in 2017, a contract being investigated by the Justice Department. being done by the department.

The lawsuit establishes that Interamerican Consulting was to develop a strategy to improve PDVSA’s reputation and position in the United States, a task that was never carried out.

Nation World News Desk
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