Reuters has corrected its piece alleging a shady scheme involving Russian oil giant Rosneft helping Venezuela evade US sanctions. The news agency said it did not determine that any payments actually took place.
The exclusive story was originally published by Reuters on April 18. Based solely on undisclosed “documents and sources,” it claimed that Rosneft was receiving oil from the Venezuelan company PDVSA at a discount, paying for it immediately to bypass the regular transaction timeframe, and then receiving the full amount from the final customers while keeping the difference as a reward.
The allegations caused an angry reaction by Rosneft, which dismissed them as “a blatant lie” and “a provocation.” The company vowed to address the issue with law enforcement and get the “pseudo-agency” banned in Russia altogether.
It was not immediately clear whether it was the result of Rosneft’s outrage, but Reuters ended up heavily altering the story on Tuesday. Apart from added “clarifications” that experts have seen no violation of US sanctions in the alleged scheme, the names of the banks supposedly involved in it have been dropped from the article altogether.
“This April 18 story corrects to make clear Reuters could not determine payments were made under the proposed arrangement, removes reference to Evrofinance Mosnarbank and clarifies that experts see no violation of sanctions,”Reuters said in an editorial note.
Rosneft has expressed reserved satisfaction with the retraction, mulling potential further comments on the matter after studying the “situation in detail.”
“It’s an unprecedented admission that we were right in our evaluation of Reuters’ article,” Rosneft spokesman Mikhail Leontyev told Vedomosti newspaper.
Claims against Rosneft came as Washington has ramped up sanctions on Venezuela in an effort to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro and install US-backed self-styled ‘interim president’ Juan Guaido instead.
The restrictions have targeted Caracas’ main source of income – oil exports – as well as other areas of its economy. Washington also urged foreign companies and banks to avoid dealing with PDVSA – or face secondary sanctions themselves.