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News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. Mar. 25, 2021: A dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen and former official at Citgo Petroleum Corporation, has pleaded guilty to laundering millions of dollars in bribes.

Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio (De Jongh), 48, a former procurement officer and manager in Citgo’s Special Projects Group, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He also pled guilty to corruptly providing business advantages to multiple individuals who obtained contracts with Citgo and PDVSA, a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.

According to court documents, between approximately 2013 and 2019, De Jongh accepted more than $7 million in bribe payments from businessmen including Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino (Gonzalez), a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen, and Tulio Anibal Farias Perez (Farias), a Venezuelan national and Houston resident, and others in exchange for assisting the businessmen and related companies in procuring contracts with Citgo, and providing them with other business advantages.

De Jongh admitted to directing bribe payments from Gonzalez, Farias and others into bank accounts in the names of shell companies that he controlled in Panama and Switzerland. In some instances, he also directed the creation of fake invoices to justify the payments.

De Jongh laundered the bribe proceeds through U.S. and international bank accounts and used the funds to purchase real property located in the Houston area. In addition to monetary payments, De Jongh also received bribes in the form of gifts and other things of value from Gonzalez, Farias and others including tickets to a 2014 World Series Game, Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 and a U2 concert. Gonzalez Testino and Farias Perez also entered guilty pleas in connection with the case.

To date, 28 individuals have been charged, 22 of whom have pleaded guilty, as part of a larger, ongoing investigation by the U.S. government into bribery at PDVSA.

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