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Justice Dept. charges ex-Citgo executive with bribery

Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has charged a former Citgo executive with accepting more than $2.5 million in bribes from businessmen seeking contacts with the oil refiner and its Venezuelan parent company.

Jose Luis De Jongh Atencio, 48, was charged with one count of conspiracy to launder money and five counts of money laundering on July 16 for his role in a bribery scheme, but the indicted was unsealed Thursday when the dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen made his initial appearance in court, the Justice Department said in a release.

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Atencio is the 27 person the Justice Department has charged in the U.S. government's ongoing investigation into bribery at Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, which Houston-based Citgo is a subsidiary of.

Prosecutors allege that Atencio transferred the money he received from the businessmen into the bank accounts of shell companies in Panama and Switzerland. Atencio is accused of then laundering the money through U.S. bank accounts and using it to buy property in Texas.

He also is accused of receiving expensive gifts from the businessmen, including tickets to a 2014 World Series baseball game, a Super Bowl football game and a U2 concert.

Two of the businessmen he is accused of accepting bribes from are Jose Manuel Gonzalez Testino, a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen, and Tulio Anibal Farias Perez, a Venezuelan national who resided in Houston.

The Justice Department said Wednesday that of those charged in its ongoing investigation, 20 have pleaded guilty, including Testino and Perez.

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