(Adds details on lawsuit, context on PDVSA)
By Brian Ellsworth
CARACAS, March 8 (Reuters) - Venezuelan state oil company
PDVSA has sued a group of oil trading companies through a U.S.
trust over a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme to buy
petroleum products below market value, the lawyer representing
the trust said on Thursday.
The lawsuit accuses a small Miami-based company called
Helsinge Inc of obtaining inside information and rigging bid
proceedings by bribing PDVSA officials including current Vice
President Ysmel Serrano in a scheme that yielded billions of
dollars in illicit gains, according to the lawsuit.
Helsinge also provided inside information to trading
companies including Lukoil Petroleum Ltd, Colonial Oi1
Industries, Inc, Glencore Ltd, Vitol SA
and Trafigura AG, which the lawsuit describes as
"Oil Company Co-Conspirators" that also benefited.
Serrano, Helsinge and the other oil companies did not
respond immediately to a request for comment.
The suit follows a recent sweep at PDVSA that put dozens of
employees in jail in what President Nicolas Maduro calls an
anti-corruption crusade but critics dismiss as factional
rivalries within a corrupt elite.
"I think this lawsuit ... illustrates the extent to which
PDVSA and the Republic of Venezuela are now prepared to go after
corruption regardless of who the people involved are," said
David Boies, chairman of law firm Boies Schiller Flexner which
is representing the trust, in a telephone interview.
The suit was filed by a group called "PDVSA US Litigation
Trust," which will litigate claims against those accused of
involvement in the bribery scheme, Boies said. Any proceeds will
be sent to PDVSA.
"If you're thinking about this in terms of the layperson,
this is a suit by PDVSA," he said.
PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth and Corina Pons; Additional
reporting by Marianna Parraga in Houston, Editing by Sandra
Maler and Cynthia Osterman)
First Published: 2018-03-09 02:55:38
Updated 2018-03-09 03:51:59
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