委内瑞拉以600万美元聘用了长期的民主党捐助者

Venezuela hired longstanding Democratic donor for $  6中号

Newly filed lobbying records show Venezuela’s socialist government previously hired a longtime 民主党 donor for $ 6 million at the same time it was lobbying to discourage the U.S. from imposing 制裁 on the oil-rich nation.

The documents, which were disclosed Thursday, show a U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil giant PDVSA agreed to hire Marcia Wiss’ 华盛顿州 law firm 三月 2017. That’s the same month it signed a consulting deal for $ 50 million with scandal-tainted former Congressman David Rivera.

MADURO REMAINS VENEZUELA’S PRESIDENT TWO YEARS AFTER THE US DECLARED HIM ‘ILLEGITIMATE

Wiss, an international trade lawyer with a history of donations to the Democratic Party, 包括一个 $ 1,500 contribution to 乔·拜登 去年, denies she did any lobbying work.

Her former client — now under new management — said it was unaware of the full extent of her work to determine if it constituted political activities benefitting Nicolás Maduro’s government. The PDVSA subsidiary also took the unusual step of registering retroactively as a foreign agent, disclosing the contracts with Rivera, Wiss and a third vendor.

The contracts have come to light as allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó work with the 司法部 to uncover any corrupt dealings at another wholly owned PDVSA subsidiary, Houston-based Citgo, which for years operated as a cash cow for Venezuela’s ruling party. A Guaidó-appointed board wrested control of Citgo, the sixth-largest independent U.S. refiner, 之后 特朗普政府 recognized him as Venezuela’s rightful leader in 2019.

The same Guaidó-appointed officials behind the new foreign lobby filings last year sued Rivera for allegedly breaking his consulting contract. Federal prosecutors in 迈阿密 are also investigating whether the 共和党人 broke foreign lobbying rules.

At the time both Wiss and Rivera were retained, Maduro was trying to curry favor with the Trump administration, avoiding outright criticism of the new U.S. president while funneling $ 500,000 给他的 inaugural committee through Citgo.

The contracts with Rivera and Wiss were part of an effort to discourage the then-new Trump administration and other governments from imposing sanctions on Venezuela, according to three people familiar with the deals who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the politically sensitive matter. Payments came from a little-known, Delaware-registered subsidiary, PDV USA, which provided shareholder services to PDVSA independent of Citgo’s oil operations.

The three people said the holding company was regularly used by Maduro’s government for political activities in the U.S.

VENEZUELA’S MADURO CLAIMS SWEEP OF BOYCOTTED ELECTION

The charm offensive failed. Backed by exiles in Miami, Trump in the early days of his presidency hosted the wife of a prominent jailed Venezuelan activist and in August 2017 imposed the first of gradually more restrictive sanctions on PDVSA. Democrats cheered the hardline stance and the 欧洲联盟 began targeting Maduro allies with restrictions of its own.

But in a similarly tactful approach now being tried again with the Biden 行政, Maduro for a while sought to ease hostilities with the U.S., which had been Venezuela’s biggest trading partner for decades before sanctions drove him closer to U.S. adversaries like 俄国, 中国伊朗. Also in the mix was U.S. 代表. Pete Sessions, who PDVSA tried to recruit to set up a meeting with the head of Exxon at the same time the oil giant’s former CEO, Rex Tillerson, was serving as Trump’s 国务卿.

Wiss collected around half of the $ 6 million in monthly installments of $ 250,000 before being instructed, like Rivera, to bill PDVSA back in Caracas in April 2018, 根据文件. On one occasion, she traveled to Caracas to meet with then Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez, who was a PDVSA board member in charge of international relations, according to two of the three people familiar with the deal. Rodríguez is now Venezuela’s vice president.

FILE - In this Dec. 8, 2020 档案照片, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro playfully sprays a journalist with disinfectant as he exits a press conference at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, 委内瑞拉, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Attorneys for the cash-strapped government blame the impact of U.S. sanctions for its inability to make an initial $  18 million down payment to the United Nations for doses of the U.N.-supplied vaccines, whose deadline has already passed. (AP Photo/Matias Delacr文件 File)

文件 – In this Dec. 8, 2020 档案照片, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro playfully sprays a journalist with disinfectant as he exits a press conference at Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, 委内瑞拉, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. Attorneys for the cash-strapped government blame the impact of U.S. sanctions for its inability to make an initial $ 18 million down payment to the United Nations for doses of the U.N.-supplied vaccines, whose deadline has already passed. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix, 文件)

Wiss said her law firm does not and never has provided lobbying services, She added that the firm never invoiced or ever received payment from PDVSA or any non-U.S. related party — suggesting that half of the contract went unpaid.

Wiss was engaged to provide PDV USA and its affiliates with legal services only,” she wrote in an e-mailed response to questions.

But the Guaido-appointed board of PDV USA deemed that the hiring of Wiss, Rivera and a third company, Caribbean Style Inc., required it to register under foreign lobbying rules. The Texas-based Caribbean Style was paid $ 625,000 to place four full-page advertisements in the New York Times and Washington Post.

The pro-Venezuelan and anti-U.S. sanctions content of these advertisements suggests they were intended to influence the U.S. government or the U.S. public’s perspective of the U.S. sanctions regime rating to Venezuela,” PDV USA said in its filing, which is dated. 十二月. 31.

MADURO’S GRIP TIGHTENS AS VENEZUELAN SOCIALISTS TAKE CONTROL OF ONCE-DEFIANT CONGRESS

总共, PDVSA sent $ 89 million to PDV USA between 2015 and March 2017 to pay U.S.-based vendors, according to the filing, which was first reported by Foreign Lobby Report, an online news service that tracks the influence industry.

PDV USA said Wiss provided updates on disputes involving PDVSA and advice on 移民, insurance, and cryptocurrency.

But it added thatPDV USA is unaware of the full extent of the legal work that Wiss may have been performing under the retainer,” suggesting that what Guaidó-appointed officials consider a high fee may have covered additional services for which it has no record. The AP could find no record of Wiss appearing on behalf of PDV USA or PDVSA in federal court or in the large number of commercial claims against Venezuela before a World Bank arbitration panel.

Wiss wouldn’t say what legal services she performed, or whether she had traveled to Caracas as part of her work, citing lawyer-client privilege. “Your information is false and you are being again misled,” 她补充说.

Lawyers for Citgo’s new board sued a consulting firm owned by Rivera last year for allegedly not fulfilling its obligations under the contract. According to the lawsuit, 里维拉, the former roommate of fellow 共和党参议员. 马可·鲁比奥, failed to describe any work that his firm, Interamerican Consulting, had actually performed, preparing just two of seven promised bi-weekly progress reports while collecting the first $ 15 million of the agreed-to $ 50 百万.

The goal of the contract was to improve PDVSA’slong-term reputation” 和 “standingamongtargeted stakeholdersin the U.S., according to a copy seen by the AP.

Rivera’s political career unraveled amid several election-related controversies, including orchestrating the stealth funding of an unknown Democratic candidate to take on his main rival in a South Florida congressional race and a state investigation into whether he hid a $ 1 million contract with a gambling company. He has never been charged with a crime.

单击此处获取FOX新闻应用程序

Rivera’s business deal is also under federal criminal investigation in Miami because Rivera never registered with the Justice Department, which would be required when lobbying U.S. officials on behalf of a foreign government.

Wiss also never registered as a foreign agent and there is no indication that she herself is under investigation.

Wiss was a longtime lawyer at Hogan Lovells, where PDVSA was a client, before starting her own boutique firm, Wiss & Partners, 在 2016.

评论被关闭.