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Former congressman David Rivera is arrested in Gergia in connection with Venezuela corruption probe

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 6/12/2022 Reuters and Katelyn Caralle, U.S. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com

Former Rep. David Rivera was arrested Monday for charges of conspiring to launder money and illegally acting as an agent of the Venezuelan government, according to a U.S. official and an indictment.

Rivera and his associate Esther Nuhfer sought to improve bilateral ties between the U.S. and Venezuela in exchange for the former U.S. congressman's consulting group receiving $15 million.

The duo also sought to prevent further U.S. economic sanctions against Venezuela while concealing their efforts to do so and without disclosing their actions, as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

They are also charged with engaging in transactions with criminally derived property, according to the indictment.

The $15 million was sent in payments to Rivera's consulting group Interamerican Consulting in March and April of 2017 from PDV USA, a U.S. subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, the indictment states.

Former Florida Representative David Rivera was arrested in Georgia on Monday on charges of conspiring to launder money and illegally acting as an agent of the Venezuelan government © Provided by Daily Mail Former Florida Representative David Rivera was arrested in Georgia on Monday on charges of conspiring to launder money and illegally acting as an agent of the Venezuelan government

'Law enforcement officers arrested David Rivera today in Atlanta, Georgia, where he made his initial court appearance before a federal magistrate judge,' wrote a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

'On November 16, 2022, Rivera was indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of Florida.'

Reuters was unable to obtain comment from Rivera or Nuhfer.

The two sought to conceal the nature of their work when communicating with one another and with foreign officials, according to the indictment.

They used code words such as 'melones' or 'melons' in place of millions and called Venezualan President Nicolas Maduro 'el guaguero,' a term that in some countries refers to a bus driver, Maduro's profession in the 1990s.

PDVSA's U.S. assets have been controlled by Venezuela's opposition since 2019.

In 2020, a PDVSA unit under opposition control sued Interamerican Consulting, stating it received $15 million from PDVSA but performed no meaningful services.

Interamerican paid millions of dollars to a company managing yachts for a Venezuelan businessman, according to records that emerged from that lawsuit. 

Rivera, 57, was a U.S. congressman for Florida's 25th congressional district for one term from 2011-2012 

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