MIAMI – Venezuela’s state-owned oil company was on the verge of financial ruin in 2017 when it decided to need expert advice to improve its reputation and work with American policymakers who could be vital to its survival.
For help, the company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. or PDVSA, to a well-connected former Florida congressman and agreed to pay his company $ 50 million for “strategic consulting services” over a three-month period.
As part of the aforementioned business, a subsidiary of a PDVSA holding company in the United States spent $ 15 million on Mr. Rivera’s consulting firm. She received only two vague five-page reports, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Mr. Rivera’s company, Interamerican Consulting, “did not provide significant services under the agreement and certainly did not provide the level of service that would reasonably be expected to be expected for a fee of approximately $ 17 million per month,” said Complaint submitted to PDV USA The American subsidiary refers to the monthly amount that it has calculated for its services.
The company is seeking to reimburse the $ 15 million it paid to Interamerican between March and April 2017 with $ 15 million in interest and damages.
It is one thing that Mr. Rivera, the subject of previous state and state investigations into inappropriate campaign business, is involved in another controversy about raising eyebrows. In this case, you have to work for a left-wing Venezuelan government insulted in South Florida is something completely different.
When asked about the contract on Wednesday, Mr. Rivera said in a text message that he should “ask the Citgo 6”, five American citizens and one US resident have been held in a Venezuelan prison since November 2017.
He seemed to suspect that he was working with the Venezuelan opposition, but there was no way to confirm it immediately.
“You managed this entire effort, including all of the money, in coordination with the Venezuelan opposition, including Leopoldo,” Rivera said, referring to Leopoldo López, an opposition leader who sought refuge in the Spanish embassy in Caracas. The Trump administration was aware of this, Rivera claimed.
Through a spokeswoman, Mr. López denied any participation in the contract that was signed during his detention. “It is absurd to attempt any kind of connection between Leopoldo López and a contract signed by representatives of the Maduro regime when the same regime isolated and tortured Mr. López in a military prison,” said the spokeswoman.
When Mr. Rivera’s company concluded the consulting contract with PDV, the subsidiary was still controlled by Mr. Maduro through PDVSA. But after the Trump administration PDV and its other American assets, including Citgo, its oil refinery subsidiary, were sanctioned last year by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the United States recognizes as Venezuela’s rightful interim president.
The lawsuit alleges that Mr. Rivera’s company, which is based in his town house and employs only him and his sister, was recruited by PDVSA and received instructions from PDVSA, not from PDV. If PDVSA had hired him directly, Mr. Rivera would probably have had to disclose his work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The two companies agreed to transfer Mr. Rivera’s contract to PDVSA, the lawsuit said, but Mr. Rivera disagreed – demanding payment of the remaining $ 35 million.
“Although Interamerican, despite the participation of the Maduro regime and the extreme disproportion between the price of the contract and the services to be provided, has not provided the services required by the agreement,” said the complainant, “Rivera has repeatedly asked for payment. ” for the outstanding bills. “