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Venezuelan ties Geneva probe opened into alleged oil trade corruption

Venezuela oil refinery

Venezuela has the world's largest proven crude oil reserves (25% of global amount or 302 billion barrels), according to 2016 figures from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)

(Keystone)

Geneva’s public prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into top managers at an oil trading firm in the city and has made two arrests, allegedly linked to a corruption scheme in Venezuela. 

According to an Associated Press (AP) report on Monday, two executives at oil trading company Helsinge in Geneva have been arrested by Swiss prosecutors. The AP cited an anonymous source familiar with the case who said the arrests followed allegations made in a complaint linked to the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

The Geneva Attorney General’s Office confirmed the investigation into unnamed Helsinge executives on suspicion of corruption of foreign officials and money-laundering, but declined to comment further. 

Helsinge was set up 14 years ago in Panama, and operates offices in Miami, Geneva and the English Channel Island of Jersey. 

It was reported earlier this month that PDVSA is suing a group of oil trading companies over a multi-billion-dollar corruption scheme to buy petroleum products below market value. 

The lawsuit filed on March 6 accuses Helsinge of obtaining inside information and rigging bidding proceedings by bribing PDVSA officials in a scheme that yielded billions of dollars in illicit gains. The suit claims Helsinge also provided inside information to other trading firms including Lukoil Petroleum Ltd, Colonial Oil Industries Inc, Glencore Ltd, Vitol SA, and Trafigura AG.

AP/Bloomberg/sb

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