Oct 23, 2021 - World

State Dept. offers $10M reward for Colombian national tied to alleged Venezuela bribery scheme

State Department building.
Photo: Alastair Pike / AFP via Getty Images

The State Department is offering a $10 million reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of a Colombian national who officials say allegedly took part in a Venezuela bribery scheme.

Driving the news: The high-value reward comes after Colombian national Alvaro Pulido Vargas and four others were charged with allegedly bribing Venezuelan government officials to obtain contracts to import and distribute food and medicine through a state-run program, according to the Department of Justice.

The big picture: In 2015, Pulido and others "began working to obtain or retain contracts to provide food" to Venezuelans while allegedly marking up the production costs for personal profit, according to the State Department.

  • As a result, "the conspirators were able to pay bribes and kickbacks to those Venezuelan government officials who assisted them in obtaining the contract to produce the boxes, and make millions of dollars in profit for themselves," State said.
  • "As a result of the scheme, Pulido, Vielma-Mora, Rubio, Lizcano, Guillermo, and their co-conspirators allegedly received approximately $1.6 billion from the Republic of Venezuela, and transferred approximately $180 million through or to the United States," according to a Justice Department press release announcing the charges.
  • Pulido works with Colombian businessman Alex Saab, an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Reuters reports. Saab was extradited to the U.S. last week on money laundering charges.
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