Former Venezuelan Officials Charged With Money Laundering at PDVSA

The U.S. Justice Department charged several former Venezuelan officials with participating in a money-laundering scheme at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

The five include Nervis Villalobos, the country’s former deputy energy minister, and Luis De Leon, a dual citizen of Venezuela and the U.S. who is a former financial director of a PDVSA affiliate, according to an indictment from August that was unsealed Monday. De Leon and Villalobos are also each charged with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and elsewhere. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, Russia, and even transnational criminal organizations.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform policymakers and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.