Obama Donor Arrested on Corruption Charges Tied to Venezuelan State Oil Firm

Roberto Rincón accused of bribing foreign officials for contracts

Roberto Rincon

Roberto Rincon


A Venezuelan oil contractor and Houston resident who donated thousands of dollars to President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign was recently arrested on charges of bribery, wire fraud, and money laundering, according to reports.

Roberto Rincón was arrested last month as part of an extensive Justice Department investigation into Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA), the country’s state oil giant. Rincon is accused of using shell companies and bribes to win lucrative contracts with PdVSA.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Roberto Rincón, 55 years old, a Venezuelan who owns companies in Houston and Venezuela, was arrested in Houston on Wednesday, Mr. Carr said. Investigators say that schemes he employed to secure contracts with the oil company generated $750 million between 2010 and 2013, court documents made public Monday showed.

Samuel Louis, a Houston-based lawyer, said Mr. Rincón denies the allegations and is looking forward to challenging the government’s case.

In the documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy K. Johnson ordered Mr. Rincón detained based on evidence that he had substantial wealth outside of the U.S. that made him a flight risk.

Judge Johnson wrote in her order of detention that investigators have found 730 bank accounts that they believe are connected to the investigation into Petróleos de Venezuela, which is known as PdVSA. Of those, they believe 108 bank accounts are controlled by Mr. Rincón, his family or his companies. U.S. authorities are seeking the forfeiture of three Swiss accounts linked to Mr. Rincón, the documents showed, that investigators are alleging hold deposits of $100 million from the contracts with PdVSA

According to Federal Election Commission records, Rincon made $227,400 in contributions to the Obama Victory Fund 2012, a joint fundraising committee that distributed donations to other committees, including the Obama campaign.

In a separate investigation, U.S. prosecutors have accused several senior Venezuelan officials of facilitating cocaine shipments into the United States, including relatives of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.

Daniel Wiser   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Daniel Wiser is an assistant editor of National Affairs. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2013, where he studied Journalism and Political Science and was the State & National Editor for The Daily Tar Heel. He hails from Waxhaw, N.C., and currently lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @TheWiserChoice.

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