David Rivera Former US Representative: On Monday, ex-Representative David Rivera of Florida’s 26th Congressional District was detained on federal criminal charges, including failing to register as a foreign agent for Venezuela, coming from his $50 million consulting contract with the country’s oil business.
An indictment was issued against Rivera, a former power broker in South Florida politics, and Esther Nuhfer, his former political strategist in Miami-Dade County, on charges of money laundering, failing to register as foreign agents, and conspiracy to commit crimes against the United States.
On Monday afternoon, Rivera appeared for the first time in a federal court in Atlanta, where he had been living prior to his arrest. However, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida reports that on November 16, a federal grand jury in Miami returned indictments against him, and he is scheduled to be moved there this week to face those accusations.
The Miami Herald’s attempts to contact Rivera or his defence attorney were unsuccessful, but the Associated Press reported that Rivera had posted bail and been released from jail Monday afternoon following his initial appearance in federal court in Atlanta.
David Rivera Former US Representative
Jeffrey Feldman, his attorney, told the AP in a text message that he would not comment because he had “not seen the indictment.” In the indictment, Rivera and Nuhfer are charged with conspiring to “unlawfully profit themselves by participating in political activities in the United States on behalf of the Government of Venezuela… in an effort to influence United States foreign policy toward Venezuela.”
It goes on to say that they attempted “to conceal these attempts by neglecting to register under [federal law] as agents of the Government of Venezuela and by giving the false appearance that they were offering advisory services to PDV USA.”
Benefit from unrestricted online access GET THIS OFFER and try it out for a month for only $1. State-owned oil business of Venezuela recruited Rivera for an expensive public relations effort to prop up the Venezuelan enterprise in the United States and prevent U.S. sanctions in 2017 as the Venezuelan economy collapsed.
According to a lawsuit filed in New York prior to the federal indictment in Miami, Rivera’s company, Interamerican Consulting, received $20 million from Venezuela’s U.S. subsidiary, PDV USA, in a matter of months, but its $50 million contract with the former politician was abruptly ended when he was accused of doing little work.
Civil and federal court filings show that Rivera funnelled $13 million, or more than half, of his PDV USA earnings to three Miami-based subcontractors claiming to provide “international strategic consulting services” to the Venezuelan company.
David Rivera! What a corruption throwback! https://t.co/ST2PGkW3et
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) December 6, 2022
According to court records and sources acquainted with Hugo Perera‘s background, he was one of Rivera’s subcontractors who made millions from the Venezuelan deal. Perera was previously convicted in one of South Florida’s largest drug-trafficking cases.
When charges were brought against Rivera and Nuhfer, only Rivera and Nuhfer were indicted; Perera was not included. According to documents filed in civil court, Rivera’s consulting firm paid a total of $4.85 million to Perera’s businesses as part of his PDV USA contract.
These included Perera’s primary company, PG & Associates, which develops residential projects in Miami, and his secondary business, Krome Agronomics, which sells fertiliser products. According to documents filed in civil court.
Rivera’s company paid $4.5 million to Nuhfer’s Miami company, Communication Solutions, Inc. Interglobal Yacht Management, LLC of Miami, Florida, which worked on Venezuelan tycoon Raul Gorrin’s yacht, earned $3.75 million from Rivera’s company.
According to the civil court records, it is unclear whether or not Perera and the other receivers of Rivera’s payments, including Nuhfer and Gorrin, ever performed any work for PDV USA as part of Rivera’s consulting firm’s contract with PDV USA.
Although Gorrin was charged with money laundering and corruption in a foreign country in 2018, his name does not appear in the latest indictment.
Former Rep David Rivera, who escaped a host of state and federal criminal indictments, was finally charged in an alleged crime
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) December 5, 2022
Though they were unable to avoid U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and its oil interests, sources say that both Perera and Gorrin assisted Rivera in securing a public relations contract with the Venezuelan government and its national oil company’s affiliate, PDV USA.
According to the indictment, PDV USA paid $15 million in three instalments to Rivera’s company, Interamerican Consulting, between March and mid-April 2017. Rivera “roughly shared these monies with Esther Nuhfer, Foreign Individual 1, and Individual 1,” according to the indictment presented by prosecutor Harry Schimkat.
Over time, “Rivera, Nuhfer, Foreign Individual 1, and Individual 1 used their respective shares of these funds to pay for various personal and business expenses, including the purchase of the real estate, the payment of expenses for luxury yachts, and, in the case of Rivera, contributions to his campaign for state office [in 2018],” as stated in the indictment.
Republican David Rivera arrested on crime relating to Venezuela and $50 million dollars. He is Florida GOP close friend of Marco Rubio. This MAY be one of Joel Greenberg 27. We’ll soon find out https://t.co/1u2Fbt4kJe pic.twitter.com/XmmPQgyrXW
— Tomi Ahonen Standing With Ukraine (@tomiahonen) December 5, 2022
Only after filing suit against Rivera’s firm, Interamerican Consulting, in 2020 did Venezuela’s U.S. subsidiary learn of the alleged misappropriation of funds by the ex-politician. Since then, it has been locked in a legal battle with Rivera and his firm’s attorneys over the release of crucial evidence.
New York-based PDV USA, the parent company of Houston-based Citgo, has filed a breach-of-contract litigation against Rivera’s company to recoup the $20 million in payments it made to PDV USA in 2017 under the terms of a $50 million agreement struck that year.
Rivera’s company has demanded payment in full by filing a counterclaim. It has been reported by many sources familiar with the inquiry that federal prosecutors in Miami have been looking into Rivera for years since he never registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. government to undertake consultancy work for the Venezuelan corporation.
Former Miami Congressman David Rivera diverted $13 million from a Venezuelan deal to a convicted drug trafficker, among others https://t.co/mePa6NtbLG
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) April 25, 2022
Up to this point, however, no one, not even Rivera, had been arrested in relation to his contract with PDV USA. One-term Cuban American congressman and former Florida legislator from Miami Rivera has been dogged by ethics and campaign-finance violation charges throughout his career, including an attempt to have a Venezuelan consul expelled from the United States.
A staunch opponent of Nicolas Maduro’s government in Venezuela, Marco Rubio is a close friend of his. Republicans Rivera and Rubio used to live together in a house near Tallahassee.
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