FBI Probes More Firms Over Venezuelan Oil Deal

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By Julianne Geiger

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into multiple European and Mexican oil companies that may be involved in violating U.S. sanctions surrounding Venezuela’s oil industry, according to four anonymous sources who spoke to Reuters.

The Mexican oil companies finding themselves under scrutiny are Libre Abordo, Grupo Jomadi Logistics and Cargo, and Schlager Business Group. The European firms include commodity trading and distribution company Elemento Ltd, and Geneva-based Swiss Oil Trading and Supply SA—a physical crude oil trading company.

The FBI is gathering data for a US Treasury Department inquiry, to see which, if any, of the abovementioned companies violated the U.S. sanctions that seek oust the Nicolas Maduro regime.

Neither the US Department of Justice nor the Treasury Department confirmed that the companies were being investigated, Reuters said.

Venezuela and its troubled oil industry have been operating poorly under U.S. sanctions,  which the United States has exercised its right to pursue before, most notably against a Rosneft subsidiary who was trading in Venezuelan crude oil in violation of U.S. sanctions. That subsidiary had been propping up Maduro in the absence of other willing Venezuela crude oil traders, according to the United States.

Now, Venezuela must find other outlets for its crude oil.

Both Abordo and Schlager told Reuters that they have contracts with Venezuela to swap food and water trucks for crude oil—a transaction that they say steers them clear of any U.S. sanctions violations.

PDVSA export documents seen by Reuters shows Abordo and Schlager now serve the largest middlemen for Venezuelan crude oil.

Venezuela’s oil production fell to just 622,000 bpd in April 2020, according to OPEC’s latest Monthly Oil Market Report, less than half of the 1.354 million bpd Venezuela produced in 2018. And 38,000 bpd lower than in March.

Crude Oil

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