MIAMI – A Miami-based food company filed suit against state-owned Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., accusing the oil giant of canceling contracts after the U.S. company refused to pay $2 million in bribes, El Nuevo Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Tomás González and Pablo Cárdenas, owners of the food exporting company Dexton Validsa, Inc., say in the suit that PDVSA subsidiaries Bariven S.A. and PDVSA Services, Inc. canceled five contracts for food supplies.
The value of the products that included beef, chicken and refined sugar amounted to some $195 million, according to El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister publication of The Miami Herald.
The suit filed in 2008 says that Juan Carlos Chourio, a supposed Bariven executive, asked for $2 million “as a guarantee that the contracts would not be canceled,” the newspaper said.
The alleged request for a bribe was repeated, according to the legal documents, at several meetings held in Miami and in an e-mail in which Bariven told the plaintiffs that “their shipments hadn’t entirely complied with the contract signed in 2007.”
Bariven, based in Caracas, handles PDVSA’s international purchases while Houston-based PDVSA Services is charged with making Bariven purchases in the United States.
González and Cárdenas allege that Chourio told them that he was sent by George Kabboul, president of Bariven and of PSI, and that he presented himself as a “close confidant” of Luis Hernández, head of operations for Bariven in Brazil.
According to the plaintiffs, Chourio told them that the two Venezuelan executives had sent him to “demand payment of the commission,” the daily said.
Bariven and PDVSA Services canceled the contract in April 2008. EFE