Official: US believes ex-Venezuela oil czar took bribe

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PDVSAUS prosecutors believe Venezuela’s former oil czar and ambassador to the United Nations received bribes as part of an alleged multibillion-dollar graft scheme in that nation’s oil industry, according to an official familiar with the US investigation.

Rafael Ramirez is named as a bribe recipient although not charged in an indictment against other former officials that was partially unsealed Monday.

Prosecutors in Houston leading a widening probe into corruption at Venezuela’s state-run oil giant PDVSA allege in the unsealed portion of the indictment that proceeds from bribes were shared with someone identified as “Official B.”

That unidentified politician is Ramirez, says a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to discuss the matter. Ramirez in the past has denied corruption allegations.