July 13, 2016 / 7:22 PM / 2 years ago

Venezuela's PDVSA finds procurement fraud in U.S. case

CARACAS, July 13 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s PDVSA is investigating U.S. allegations of a $1 billion bribery conspiracy involving the state oil company and has found there was fraud in procurement processes, according to a report of its 2015 results.

PDVSA, the financial motor of President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, had previously blasted the Houston court case against two Venezuelan businessmen as part of a smear campaign by opponents trying to link it to corruption.

But PDVSA’s audited financial statement, published this week, said an internal probe “confirmed the company was a victim of fraud in its process of international procurement.”

The two businessmen, Abraham Shiera and Roberto Rincon, have pleaded guilty after being arrested last year and charged for conspiring to pay bribes for energy contracts.

The indictment said five PDVSA officials received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes made principally in the form of wire transfers but also through mortgage payments, airline tickets and, in one case, whiskey.

From 2009 to 2014, more than $1 billion was traced to the conspiracy, according to court documents. As well as Shiera and Rincon, four other individuals have also pleaded guilty in the Houston case, including three former PDVSA officials.

PDVSA’s report said that because the investigation was continuing “up to now there is no material impact on consolidated financial results.”

“PDVSA does not tolerate acts of corruption and will continue investigating and acting with the aim of determining responsibilities,” it said.

In an unusual note on the financial statement, PDVSA’s auditor, the local representative of KPMG, said the probe will drag on and might have a possible impact on “the results of operations and the consolidated financial situation.” (Reporting by Corina Pons; Editing by Marianna Parraga and Grant McCool)

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