ZURICH, March 24 (Reuters) - In a widening corruption probe into Venezuela’s state oil company by the U.S. Justice Department, Swiss regulators have agreed to provide U.S. prosecutors with records from at least 18 banks relating to the oil firm, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
The request for information from the U.S. authorities was part of their investigation into bribery at Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA). U.S. authorities say they have traced over $1 billion to a conspiracy involving a Venezuelan magnate who allegedly paid bribes to obtain contracts from PDVSA.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had requested the records in connection with an investigation by the New York Attorney’s Office into representatives of Venezuelan energy company Derwick Associates, which has done business with PDVSA, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice told Bloomberg. Records of any wire transactions between the 18 banks and individuals or companies suspected of bribery or other criminal conduct in Venezuela would be given to federal prosecutors in New York as a result of the request.
The Swiss Federal Office of Justice did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Both the U.S. Justice Department and a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment.
In December, three former officials at Venezuela’s state oil company pleaded guilty in a federal court in Houston, Texas, to charges related to a scheme by two businessmen to corruptly secure energy contracts, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday. (Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and Nate Raymond; Editing by Mark Potter)