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Matthias Krull, a German national, entered a guilty plea today for his role in the $1.2 billion PDVSA embezzlement case.
Krull, formerly managing director and vice chairman of Swiss bank Julius Baer, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, and is now expected to be sentenced in late October, according to the Department of Justice press release issued late on Wednesday. His specialty at the Swiss bank was Venezuelan clients.
In the plea, Krull detailed how he joined a group of individuals who had embezzled the funds, with the intent to launder the billion-plus dollars using Florida real estate and other false investment schemes to hide the fact that the money came from troubled PDVSA.
The embezzlement began sometime in 2014.
The co-conspirators in the case include former PDVSA officials and other Venezuelan nationals, including Carmelo Urdaneta Aqui, former legal counsel to the Venezuelan Minister of Oil and Mining, and Abraham Edgardo Ortega, former Executive Director of Finance at PDVSA.
Other PDVSA officials were allegedly part of the conspiracy, but remain uncharged members, according to a document filed with the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida.
PDVSA has been at the center of multiple bribery and corruption cases, and Venezuelan’s oil production continues to drop every month, with its oil production now at the lowest point in almost seven decades.
On top of the freefalling production and the general critical status of the country’s economy, the country has seen a lack of investment and an exodus of oil workers who don’t see the point of working for salaries that become worthless overnight due to the 13,860-percent hyperinflation, ConocoPhillips is looking to seize PDVSA assets in the Caribbean in a bid to enforce a court ruling that awarded the U.S. firm US$2 billion in compensation for the forced nationalization of company assets in Venezuela.
Despite this, Venezuela’s oil minister Manual Quevedo spoke in July about its plans to raise PDVSA’s oil production.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.