Company News

UPDATE 1-Fugitive Venezuelan indicted in US for fraud

* Investment scheme defrauded $22 million from oil company

* FTC Capital Markets chair and employee charged

NEW YORK, Oct 20 (Reuters) - A fugitive Venezuelan businessman charged in the United States with defrauding a subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA [PDVSA.UL] out of $22 million was indicted by a U.S. grand jury on Tuesday, according to court documents.

The indictment said Guillermo Clamens, former chairman of registered broker-dealer FTC Capital Markets in New York, solicited $1.5 billion from two institutional investors into accounts he managed from April to November 2008.

His co-defendant, Nazly Cucunuba Lopez, 33, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court on Oct. 16 to conspiracy and securities fraud charges for her role in the purported scheme run by Clamens.

Both were charged on May 19 in criminal complaints, an alternative charging document to an indictment. Clamens was indicted for securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy, charges that carry a possible prison term of up to 20 years.

U.S. prosecutors and the SEC accused them of defrauding Citgo Petroleum Corp, a subsidiary of PDV Holding Inc owned by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

At the time of the charges in May, Clamens was in Venezuela and remains there, according to authorities.

The pair were accused of investing money in high-risk securities without the knowledge of those investors, instead of in low-risk securities, the complaint said.

A separate lawsuit by the companies in March accused the pair of creating a “slush fund” that they used “to finance self-interested, unauthorized and speculative trading in unregistered, risky, illiquid investments in which they had financial interests, the full extent of which remain unknown.”

The case is USA v Guillermo A. Clamens and Nazly Cucunuba Lopez in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York No. 09-mag-1223. (Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Richard Chang)