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David Rivera has been accused of funneling huge chunks of money into a yacht company.
David Rivera has been accused of funneling huge chunks of money into a yacht company. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Accusations leveled against a former Miami congressman who was hired by Venezuelan Government

Ex-Miami congressman, David Rivera was accused in a civil suit of funneling a huge chunk of a $50 million contract into a yacht company.

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Back in 2017, former Miami congressman, David Rivera signed a consulting contract worth $50 million for three months of work with the Venezuelan government that was meant to be spent doing “strategic consulting” to build bridges with important U.S. stakeholders. 

According to new allegations in a civil lawsuit filed in New York federal court on Friday, Aug. 20, not only did Rivera not do any work for Venezuela, but he funneled a huge chunk of the money of the contract into a yacht company on behalf of a billionaire fugitive. 

Opponents of Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, filed the suit as the ones who now control the U.S. branches and partners of the Venezuela state-owned oil company. While Rivera has not been charged with any particular crime, the new suit and its claim give an inside look at his relationship and business dealings with Venezuela’s state-run oil company as well as the money he received and how he spent it. 

Back in 2020, Rivera’s consulting company, Interamerican Consulting, was sued by the Delaware-based branch of Venezuela-owned Citgo. It claims Rivera did not do any of the work he was contractually obligated to do. That very contract is in question in an ongoing criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Miami. They are also looking into whether Rivera registered as a foreign lobbyist or not, as he was required to by law. 

At the time of the contract’s signing, Maduro’s government had taken a liking to the then-new U.S. President Donald Trump, refusing to criticize him. Through Citgo, he and his government donated over $500,000 to his inaugural committee. The allegations and suit 

are based on recently uncovered information from PDV’s U.S.-based attorneys, that include 18,000 texts and WhatsApp messages from his phone as well as statements made during his two-day deposition in July. 

According to the filing, Rivera received $15 million of the money of the original $50 million and spent it in part on payments to a convicted drug trafficker as well as a yacht company on behalf of a Venezuelan billionaire, and TV personality who is currently wanted by U.S. authorities. In return, Rivera launched his own countersuit against PDV USA for breach of contract as well as its failure to pay the $30 million he is still owed from the contract. 

According to the filing, “Mr. Rivera never provided any services to Citgo and, it appears, never intended to do so — Instead, the true purpose of the agreement was to cover up illicit transactions.” 

In the suit, it shows evidence of messages between Rivera and Raul Gorrin, a worker for Maduro who also owns the biggest private TV network in Venezuela. In the messages, it shows a clear indication of transactions and bribes, such as concert tickets. Additionally, Rivera discussed with him about trying to set up a meeting between Venezuela’s Prime Minister and Exxon, the U.S oil company. 

In his deposition, Rivera was unable to explain the messages and claimed he could not remember. Rivera tried to get the court to rule out the messages claiming it was attorney-client privilege, as Gorrin is a lawyer. However, Gorrin is not licensed to practice in the state and a judge ruled it did not meet the requirements needed to remove it from the suit and was forced to hand the messages and texts over. 

Of the $15 million he received, over 75% was transferred to other unnamed individuals. $3.75 million of that was according to the suit, given to InterGlobal Yacht Company, a Miami based company. 

The former Republican congressman only served one term in Congress back in 2011-2013. Rivera throughout his career has been involved in many election-related controversies, which includes last year when he was fined $456,000 for violating campaign finance laws when he was the mastermind behind a secret funding plan for Democratic candidates to take on one of his rivals in a South Florida congressional race.

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