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PDVSA “Victim” Petition Denied

This [1] December post highlighted how Bariven S.A. (a subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (“PDVSA”) – the state-owned oil company of the Venezuela) made a filing in an ongoing DOJ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution seeking victim status and requesting that the court enter an order of restitution of $600 million.

The prior post called Bariven’s filing an uphill climb and noted that a similar request failed in connection with the Alcatel-Lucent FCPA enforcement action.

Nevertheless, the prior post noted that the DOJ would respond to the filing and in doing so was likely to reveal some interesting information.

As highlighted in this post, the DOJ did respond, revealed some interesting information, and the court denied the motion.

In its response, the DOJ stated:

“Bariven’s attempt to seek victim status in these cases amounts to nothing more than a fishing expedition in the hope that it can gain access to sensitive and confidential information about the Government’s ongoing investigation into bribery and corruption at Bariven and its parent PDVSA.”

[…]

“The Government’s investigation into corruption at PDVSA and Bariven remains ongoing. The details of the Government’s investigation and evidence gathered to date are highly sensitive and, accordingly, a summary of that evidence as it pertains to Bariven’s motion is set forth in the Government’s Addendum filed with the Court under seal and ex parte.”

[…]

“… Bariven has more than simply a financial motivation to seek sensitive information about the Government’s ongoing investigation; as an entity that was complicit in the scheme, Bariven’s access to such information risks dropping non-public information about an ongoing investigation directly into the hands of those being investigated, giving Bariven and its employees an unjustified and inappropriate preview of the Government’s evidence. This Court should not permit such a result.”

Referencing the similar unsuccessful prior petition in the Alcatel-Lucent matter, the DOJ stated that it presented a “factual scenario on all fours with the one presented by Bariven’s claim .. and the Court should reach the same decision.”

[2]

Last week the judge denied Bariven’s motion without prejudice as premature and stated that the issue may be re-urged at the time of sentencing which is scheduled for July 2017.