Gazprombank resists corruption in Venezuela

Earlier, former top-manager of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA, Abraham Edgardo Ortega, confessed to the US authorities to receive a bribe from a Russian bank and a French oil company.
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Gazprombank denies information about any connection of the bank and / or companies of its group with the alleged case of $ 1.2 billion in money laundering, as well as with alleged incidents of corruption in PDVSA, official bank spokesman Anton Trifonov told Forbes. In addition, according to him, Gazprombank did not receive any official requests and requests from the US justice authorities.

Earlier, on October 31, the US Department of Justice’s website published a statement by the Attorney General of the Southern District of Florida, according to which Abraham Edgardo Ortega, a former top manager of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy and receiving a bribe to $ 5 million from a Russian bank and a French oil company in exchange for granting them priority status on borrowing. The names of the French company and the Russian bank are not given in the statement of the American prosecutor's office, but it is noted that they were minority partners of PDVSA in several joint ventures. Today, Reuters, citing its sources, reported that it is a question of Gazprombank and the Anglo-French oil company Perenco.

Ortega, who held senior positions in PDVSA from 2004 to March 2016, claimed that he received a bribe to solve the problems of the French and Russians, giving them a “priority status” in allocating loans to these joint ventures due to the fact that after the crisis of 2008, cash outflow from the Venezuelan joint ventures slowed sharply and PDVSA agreed to pay only those companies that gave them loans.

The structure of Gazprombank (Gazprombank Latin America Ventures) established a joint venture Petrozamora with PDVSA to take measures to increase the level of oil production at six fields at a late stage of development located in the area of ​​Lake Maracaibo in 2012. At the same time, as a representative of Gazprombank notes, based on publicly available case materials, the alleged events are related to a certain joint venture established between 2006 and 2007, that is, long before the creation of the Petrozamora joint venture. Similar joint ventures operate with the participation of leading international oil companies. As a rule, in such joint ventures 60% are controlled by Venezuela, and 40% - by a foreign investor.

In 2013, debt financing of capital investments and operating expenses of Petrozamora JV was structured on market terms, without any preferences from the Venezuelan side. The amount of financing is up to $ 1 billion. This structure of financing, Trifonov claims, also does not differ from the usual practice of financing by foreign investors. “In its activities, Gazprombank is intolerant of any manifestations of corruption and strictly observes all the requirements of national and international legislation,” the official representative of the bank concluded.

On June 3, 2015, the official newspaper of Venezuela published a presidential decree on the transfer of the Bachakero Lago, Block 3 and Block 7 fields to the Petrozamora joint venture balance sheet. Since January 1, 2018, the Block 7 - Area 8 field located on the shelf of Lake Maracaibo is also on the balance sheet of the joint venture. Thus, today Petrozamora produces about 100,000 barrels per day with a resource base of more than 5 billion barrels of proven recoverable reserves.