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Saturday, 25 June, 2022

The US accuses a Venezuelan businessman of bribes and money laundering linked to PDVSA

Natalino D'Amato gets accused of bribing officials in joint ventures between foreign oil companies and the state oil concern to obtain highly lucrative contracts involving inflated fees for goods and services. The US is seeking to get $45 million in forfeited, tainted funds currently in bank accounts involved in a scheme that saw PDVSA pay D’Amato $160 million.

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The US Justice Department accused Italian-Venezuelan businessman Natalino D’Amato, 61, of money laundering due to inflated contracts obtained through bribes to officials of the state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).

The indictment also includes allegations seeking criminal forfeiture of bank accounts involved in the charged offenses, with funds totaling approximately $45 million in a scheme that eventually involved PDVSA making inflated payments of $160 million since 2017.

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D’Amato, who controlled several companies that had accounts in US banks, was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering. On its website, the Department of Justice reported that the man had four counts of international money laundering, three counts of promotional money laundering, and three counts of participation in transactions involving property derived from the crime.

According to the indictment, the businessman conspired with third parties, including officials of joint ventures controlled by PDVSA in the Orinoco Oil Belt, between January 2013 and December 2017, to launder money from a bribery scheme to bank accounts located in South Florida.

The text says that D’Amato offered payments and bribes to officials of these PDVSA joint ventures to obtain highly inflated and lucrative contracts for goods and services. They also claim that during the time of the conspiracy, the companies controlled by the Italian-Venezuelan businessman received approximately $160 million from the state oil company joint ventures.

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Part of those funds used to make payments to Venezuelan officials for their benefit, says the Justice Department text. With the accusation, the U. office seeks to seize bank accounts involved with the alleged crimes, with funds of approximately $45 million. Among the companies involved in the crimes would be Venezolana De Mecanizado C.A. and Tecno Parts C.A.

Natalino D’Amato appears in the comments of the list of corrupt PDVSA companies published by Argenis D’Arienzo.

Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.

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