Venezuela Sends Citgo-6 US Oilmen To Prison, Convicted Of Embezzlement.

By Beyond My Ken - Own work. The double-sided Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, Boston, Massachusetts, was erected in 1965, replacing one which was built in 1940. Originally, there was a Cities Service (Citgo) gas station at street level, but it is no longer there. When Citgo attempted to dismantle the sign in 1983, the effort was met with a public outcry, as it had become a well-known landmark.
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CARACAS, Venezuela–November 26th, 2020–Six American oil executives held for three years in Venezuela were found guilty of corruption charges by a judge Thursday and immediately sentenced to prison, dashing any hopes that their families had that they would be home for Thanksgiving.

The US Department of State protested the convictions:

The US citizens were accused of crimes such as embezzlement, money laundering and conspiracy.

Five of the men received jail terms of 8 years and 10 months. The interim president of Citgo at the time of his arrest, Jose Pereira, was given a 13-year 7-month term.

“The evidence for the crimes they are accused of was not there, it did not even mention the six of them,” said defense lawyer, Maria Alejandra. “We were ready for this decision because they are political prisoners.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had called for their release on Saturday. Pompeo said the men were “lured to Caracas for business meetings, wrongfully detained by masked security agents, and then thrown into one of Venezuela’s most dangerous prisons.”

The six men were held in a prison known as El Helicoide, known for overcrowding and the torture of inmates.

They were indicted with embezzling from a never-executed proposal to refinance some $4 billion (€3.4 billion) in Citgo bonds by offering a 50% stake in the company as collateral.

They denied the charges. The trial was not open to the public or reporters, so the exact nature of the evidence presented against them, or their rebuttal, is not known.

U.S. prosecutors have also charged a former Citgo Petroleum manager with accepting $2.5 million as part of a scheme to bribe officials with the U.S. refiner and its Venezuelan parent to win business contracts, but the cases are not thought to be connected.

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