PDVSA's U.S. consultant made payments for Venezuelan mogul's yachts -court records

File Photo: A woman walks next to a closed Petroleos de Venezuela, S. A. (PDVSA) fuel station in La Paz, Bolivia, January 9, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado

NEW YORK, April 8 (Reuters) - A U.S. consulting firm hired by Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA.UL) in 2017 paid millions of dollars to a company managing yachts for a Venezuelan businessman, according to court records made public this week.

The revelation came as part of a lawsuit brought in Manhattan federal court by PDVSA against Florida-based Interamerican Consulting, which is run by former U.S. Congressman David Rivera.

PDVSA's U.S. assets have been controlled by Venezuela's opposition since 2019.

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In March 2017, with PDVSA still under the full control of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government, PDVSA hired Interamerican to improve the company's standing in the United States, court records show. In 2020, a PDVSA unit under opposition control sued Interamerican, stating it received $15 million from PDVSA but performed no meaningful services.

Interamerican denied the claims and countersued, alleging PDVSA missed remaining payments under the $50 million contract.

After signing the deal, Interamerican paid $3.75 million to Interglobal Yacht Management, which managed yachts belonging to Venezuelan television mogul Raul Gorrin, according to a transcript of a deposition of an Interglobal President Joel Brakha filed on Tuesday. The court records did not state why Interamerican paid the money.

Gorrin, who owns television station Globovision, was separately charged with violating U.S. anti-corruption laws for allegedly facilitating $150 million in bribe payments to Venezuelan officials for access to lucrative currency deals, according to a U.S. indictment unsealed in 2018.

U.S. prosecutors say billions of dollars have been embezzled from PDVSA through bribes and kickbacks. Several former PDVSA officials, as well as a Swiss banker, have pleaded guilty in U.S. federal courts to corruption charges.

Neither Gorrin, Rivera or Interglobal have been accused of wrongdoing over the yacht payment.

Lawyers for Interamerican and Gorrin did not respond to requests for comment. Alexander Fox, a lawyer for Brakha, declined to comment.

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Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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Thomson Reuters

Reports on the New York federal courts. Previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.